MARCH 25, 2012 is a date Sone Aluko will always remember as he scored a fantastic solo goal against Celtic to help Rangers record a memorable 3-2 derby victory at Ibrox.
The Nigerian ace made it 1-0 on 11 minutes when he picked the ball up 15 yards inside the visitors’ half. From there he nutmegged Thomas Rogne to get into the 18-yard box, sidestepped Charlie Mulgrew and finished low past Fraser Forster.
It was a remarkable moment at the start of a remarkable game which saw Cha Du-Ri sent off before the half-hour mark and Victor Wanyama followed 12 minutes after the break.
Andy Little and Lee Wallace slotted in further goals for the Light Blues – on 72 and 77 minutes respectively – to make it 3-0, but the drama was not over.
Celtic captain Scott Brown scored a late penalty after Carlos Bocanegra was also sent off and Rogne headed home in stoppage time, beating Allan McGregor.
The two late goals could not prevent an important Rangers victory in the penultimate Old Firm clash of the 2011/12 season. Aluko recalled: “Celtic could have won the league if they had won that game so that put added pressure and concentration on us. I was thinking we could go down in history for all the wrong reasons if it happened.
I didn’t want to be in the Rangers team that let Celtic win the league and the message from the rest of the camp was clear – this won’t happen on our watch.
“We were so determined that we would not lose and I think the boys played the game of the season.
“We were 3-0 up at one stage and they had a rally at the end and scored two goals, which flattered them a bit.
“It was an unbelievable day because of the atmosphere and scoring the first goal was an incredible feeling. It is definitely up there with any I’ve scored in my career.
“It’s funny because I remember starting the game really slowly. I couldn’t get on the ball and I was worried.
“I’d been in good form and scored five in 11 games before the Old Firm, but I hadn’t made an impact on this game.
“I wanted to try something different when I finally got on the ball and it was pure instinct which made me drive to get one-on-one with the keeper.
“It was great to see the ball hit the net, and now on each anniversary of the goal I get tweets about it from Rangers fans. I get at least five or six videos of it sent to me every year, too.”