clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Forgotten Glories: Lesser Known Victories Over Rangers

Number 2: Celtic 2 Rangers 0 March 7th 1997

Malky Mackay heads Celtic into the lead

Our look at five unheralded victories over our greatest rivals continues with this frantic Scottish Cup quarter-final from March 1997.

Season 1996-97 was just a tad fraught for Celtic. We were desperately trying to stop Rangers equalling our beloved 'nine in a row' whilst dealing with such characters as Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Jorge Cadete and Paolo Di Canio, all great players but also known for causing serious problems, plus we also had the Achilles heel of our constant inability to defeat Rangers when it mattered, we had already lost all three league games to Rangers before this cup game, and rumours were rife about manager Tommy Burns' future at the club.

But all that was put to one side as Celtic faced Rangers on the evening of March 6th 1997, knowing that victory would not only make us favourites for the cup, but also give the team a great confidence boost ahead of the final league encounter between the sides ten days later. Pierre Van Hooijdonk was on the bench, and would leave Celtic for Nottingham Forest only four days later, but the mercurial Paolo Di Canio and Jorge Cadete both started for Celtic, and they would both have a huge impact on the game.

Celtic, so often inferior in Old Firm games of this era, began at a frenzied pace, and Rangers were quickly finding it difficult to cope with the skills of Paolo Di Canio and a free-kick won by him lead to Phil O'Donnell missing a sitter when he blasted over the bar. That only delayed the opening goal, when a Di Canio corner was headed into the net by Malky Mackay, who beat Andy Goram to the ball. 1-0 Celtic after only ten minutes!

Amongst a maelstrom of noise, Celtic got their second only eight minutes later, after Joachim Björklund was adjudged to have fouled Jorge Cadete by referee Jim McCluskey - the award looked quite soft, but thank you brother McCluskey. Di Canio calmly set Goram the wrong way from the spot, and Celtic were 2-0 up, a start beyond our wildest dreams.

Di Canio was completely dominating the game, and Rangers resorted to their usual thuggish tactics to stop him, and it wasn't a shock when he was forced off injured at half-time, to be replaced by Andreas Thom.

After all the mayhem of the first-half, the second-half was a calmer affair. For once, Celtic didn't make any of our usual individual mistakes, Paul McStay rolled back the years with a great performance and we saw out the win relatively comfortably amidst highly emotional scenes of celebration, which ended with the players forming a celebratory huddle.

When watching the highlights of the game, one of the most notable aspects was the constant level of noise from the crowd, there was an absolute desperation to beat Rangers in those days, which whilst still prevalent today doesn't seem intense as it once was.

Sadly, this win proved to be a false dawn for Tommy Burns and this Celtic side, and by the end of April he was out of the cup, out of the league title race and out of a job after being sacked by Celtic supremo Fergus McCann. Thankfully Tommy returned to the club in a coaching role a couple of years later and was a part of the dominant Martin O'Neill and Gordon Strachan years, but for this night at least, he had masterminded a win over Rangers.

Celtic 2 (Mackay 10, Di Canio (pen) 18,) Rangers 0