The three Super Eagles stars may have thrown away a FIFA World Cup ticket and their Premiership title hopes all within five days
Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun, and Calvin Bassey were involved as defending champions Rangers succumbed to a humbling 1-2 defeat at home to league leaders Celtic on Sunday afternoon.
Despite their exertions for and disappointing World Cup failure with the Super Eagles in midweek, Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst handed starts to his three Nigerian stars.
With just three minutes on the clock, former Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey got the Ibrox rocking with the opening goal, which Calvin Bassey initiated.
The young Nigerian fullback sent a lovely pass forward for Ryan Kent to run to, and the attacker cut the ball back for Ramsey to slam in past Joe Hart from eight yards out.
But the noise level inside the Gers’ traditional home dipped significantly four minutes later as Celtic levelled the game on their first attack.
Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor could only push a Reo Hatate effort out to Tom Rogic, who swept the ball high into the net.
2002 – Today's Old Firm derby is the first time that both Rangers and Celtic have scored in the opening 10 minutes of a league meeting between the two sides since December 2002 – a game which finished 3-2 to Rangers. Frantic. pic.twitter.com/J0yKhIQjJ0— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 3, 2022
The fast tempo of the game showed no sign of stopping, though, with Leon Balogun making a firm sliding tackle at one end before nearly heading Rangers back in the lead at the other end within minutes.
Centre-back Carl Starfelt clipped Aribo’s heels in the Celtic box, but the referee was not interested in the Nigerian midfielder’s penalty calls. And moments later, Bassey was in the right place to block a Celtic attempt from making it into the net.
But Celtic soon displayed why they have the best away record in the Premiership as they took the lead for the first time in the match through Cameron Carter-Vickers shortly before the halftime break.
The second half was less frantic than the first, as Celtic did brilliantly to contain their desperate hosts. And with Rangers missing their workaholic pointman Alfredo Morelos, the Gers lacked quality up front to trouble the league leaders.
And at the final whistle, Celtic continued their 26-match unbeaten run while putting an end to Rangers’ two-year undefeated streak at the Ibrox.
More importantly, Ange Postecoglou’s men now boast a six-point advantage over their Glasgow rivals and are now favourites to reclaim the title they lost last year.