The 6 MUST WIN Rangers and Celtic title clashes that foreshadow Ibrox blockbuster

The message has been consistent from ex-managers, former players and pundits when looking ahead to Sunday’s Old Firm clash.

They are all in agreement that this is a MUST win for Rangers if they are realistic about retaining their Scottish Premiership crown.

Or certainly that they can’t afford to lose it but with Celtic’s superior goal difference then even a draw would leave the Light Blues up against it with six league games left.

Despite a draw suiting the Hoops, former Parkhead boss Martin O’Neill reckons Ange Postecoglou will still go for the jugular and play the only way he knows – all out attack.

But certainly the situation Rangers find themselves in means that all the pressure is on them going into the game.

And the big question is whether they will be able to handle the heat of the situation with a partisan home crowd either helping or, depending on how the game goes, hindering them.

Here, RecordSport looks at six other Old Firm derby games where it was win or bust in terms of the title race.

2017/18 – Rangers 2 Celtic 3

Following the title romp of the previous season, there was talk of a title race going into this match.

A win for Rangers would have closed the gap on the Hoops to just three points, although Brendan Rodgers and his men would still have had a game in hand.

And caretaker boss Graeme Murty’s Light Blues got off the perfect start when Josh Windass scored with just three minutes on the clock.

Even when Tom Rogic leveled the home side still came back with Daniel Candeias restoring their lead.

Moussa Dembele equalized before the break before Jozo Simunovic was red carded in the second half but Gers couldn’t take advantage and Odsonne Edouard grabbed a dramatic winner to end the Ibrox side’s title aspirations.

2009/10 – Rangers 1 Celtic 0

This game took place at the end of February but it was already the last-chance saloon for Tony Mowbray’s Hoops.

Celtic went to Ibrox needing a win to cut the gap at the top to four points but they had still played a game more than Walter Smith’s men.

A victory would have reignited their title challenge but what they suffered was an agonizing defeat that would trigger their collapse in a wretched season.

Despite Scott Brown’s red card they looked set to leave Govan with a point but Maurice Edu had other ideas as he scored an injury time winner.

2008/09 Rangers 1 Celtic 0

Defeat for Walter Smith and his men at home to their rivals here would have left them trailing the Hoops by four points with just three games left.

They would have been massive odds against pulling that off if Gordon Strachan’s side had pulled off victory.

However, they handled the pressure and Steven Davis came up with the only goal of the game to turn a one-point deficit into a two point advantage and they didn’t look back as they went on to lift the title.

2007/08 – Celtic 3 Rangers 2

When the visitors recovered from Scott McDonald’s early opener to take the lead through David Weir and Daniel Cousin then it was a big ask for Gordon Strachan’s Hoops to come back.

But they did and McDonald’s second from the penalty spot shortly before half time was a massive moment in the game.

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Having got back on level terms, the crowd were back with them and Barry Robson’s winner from the penalty spot was a significant moment in the title race.

This second home derby win inside 11 days put Celtic five points clear and while Rangers still had three games in hand, the fixtures in a marathon season eventually caught up with them as they missed out on the last day. But had Celtic failed to win this one then there was no way back.

2002/03 – Rangers 1 Celtic 2

This game was dubbed ‘Beachball Sunday’ as Celtic returned from Portugal where they had secured their place in the UEFA Cup final with a win over Boavista.

Martin O’Neill’s men trailed the Light Blues by eight points but they did have a game in hand so they knew victory was a must to have any realistic chance of the title.

John Hartson was an integral part of Celtic’s success under Martin O’Neill

And they showed no effects from their trip abroad with Alan Thompson, from the penalty spot, and John Hartson scoring.

Ronald de Boer pulled one back but it wasn’t enough and the title race was back on but the Hoops still didn’t have enough as they lost out on goal difference in the final day.

1996/97 – Celtic 0 Rangers 1

This was a game where that pressure of needing a victory all got a bit too much as Celtic looked to stop their arch-rivals winning nine in a row.

A win for the Hoops would have cut the gap to just two points on Walter Smith’s men but Brian Laudrup netted the only goal at Parkhead.

Returning Ranger Mark Hateley was sent off along with Celtic’s Malky MacKay and Paolo Di Canio and Ian Ferguson had their infamous bust up.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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