Making your debut in the Old Firm derby can never be easy, especially when you end up on the losing side. However, Celtic’s new signing Chinese captain Zheng Zhi handled Sunday’s first Glasgow derby of the new year admirably, and provided more of the same is shown in the rest of the season, the Bhoys look to have snapped up a quality player.
29-year-old Zheng, who was released by Charlton Athletic at the end of last season, had few occasions to truly shine in the frenetic and hostile atmosphere of Ibrox, but when the ball fell at his feet the Chinese international looked dangerous.
Operating down the right hand side, Zhi’s first major contribution was to be brought down by Sasa Papac for a penalty in the 25th minute. Aiden McGeady tucked home the resulting spot-kick. Thereafter, Zheng Zhi was most noticeable for his industrious play down the right hand flank, particularly early in the second half when the number 27 skinned Sasa Papac down the line before teeing up Scott McDonald for a clear shot on target.
Zheng’s debut was called to a halt after 70 minutes when he was replaced by Paddy McCourt.
Taking a step backwards, Zheng Zhi could be a solution to some of the problems facing Tony Mowbray in the short and long term. In the immediate future, Zheng could be used to replace Marc-Antoine Fortune as the man to link midfield with the principal forward. In the long term, he could be the creative force that the Celtic midfield desperately needs. Looking strong and mobile, Zheng exhibited a degree of vision amid the blur of an Old Firm match.
Highlights of Zheng Zhi’s Celtic debut against Rangers can be seen here.
Moving to Serie A, individual match highlights of Ronaldinho’s match saving performance for AC Milan at Atalanta from last week can be seen here.