Celtic beat Rangers 2-0 as Glasgow remains Green & White
Celtic sent their critics and pretenders to their throne a resounding message with 2-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox, despite being written off by many in the game.
Odsonne Edouard gave Celtic the lead in the first half after beating the Rangers offside trap with a cool finish under Allan McGregor. And with the game entering injury time, substitute Jonny Hayes killed the game off with Celtic’s second.
Jordan Jones was sent off just before the full time whistle as he looked to appease the Rangers fans over what was in effect a very poor performance from the pretenders to Celtic’s title.
Story of the Game
Celtic started the game brightly pushing Steven Gerrard’s side back as the first chance of the match fell to Ryan Christie, but his left footed strike from distance flew wide of Allan McGregor’s near post.
As Rangers pushed forward Hatam Elhamed should his worth as he made a well-timed sliding tackle to cut out some good passing between Joseph Aribo and Jermaine Defoe inside the box.
But despite the game slowing down after a frenetic first 20 minutes, Celtic began turning the screw with Edouard looking a threat every time he got onto the ball. He linked up well with Ryan Christie and James Forrest, but he failed to get a clear sight of goal until Neil Lennon’s side won a free kick 30 yards from goal.
However, from the resulting free kick Edouard’s shot flew wide of the Rangers goal.
Fraser Forster had little to do in the game, but when he was called into action he stood tall. Just before the half hour mark Steven Davis slotted a pass through to Defoe, who cut inside but his shot was straight at Forster who saved comfortably.
Despite that slight scare, Celtic went into the lead just two minutes later. Johnston picked up the ball on the byline and played a perfect ball through to Edouard, who beat the Rangers offside trap and dribbled his way into the box to calmly slot the ball McGregor to break the deadlock.
As the first half ticked away, Celtic ended the first 45 minutes the dominant side never letting Rangers get a toe hold into the game.
At half time, Glenn Kamara was brought off for Ojo and when the game restarted Rangers pressed forward looking for an equaliser and came close to doing so after Aribo played the ball to Defoe. Despite the English striker being able to turn and shoot, that man Elhamed was once again in the right place at the right time to block the shot.
Rangers continued to press forward, but Celtic’s defensive wall of Jullien, Bitton, Bolingoli and Elhamed stood tall channelling their inner Gandalf to make sure that Rangers shall not pass.
But soon after it looked like Celtic’s rock solid defence was going to take a huge hit with Nir Bitton having to go off injured. It meant an enforced change and a debut for Moritz Bauer, who slotted into the right back role with Elhamed moving alongside Jullien.
While James Forrest, who was pretty much anonymous for much of the game by his own standards, made way for Olivier Ntcham. The Frenchman’s introduction was an inspired call by Lennon as he helped to shore up the team and protect the makeshift makeshift defence.
Celtic continued to control the game and pressed forward looking for the all important second goal to kill the game off.
First Edouard had a shot from distance but his effort was over the bar, before McGregor saw a shot blocked inside the box and Rangers keeper Allan McGregor denying Elhamed and Jullien in quick succession to keep Rangers in the game.
Celtic had a further chance late on in the game when Ntcham dragged two Rangers players out wide to close him down before rolling a ball into the path of fellow substitute Jonny Hayes - who had came on for Mikey Johnston - but his cut across the face of goal was cleared by Connor Goldson as Edouard waited to tap the ball into the back of the net.
But with the game now in injury time, the small band of Celtic supporters turned the dark dreary confines of Ibrox into a little bit of paradise as they celebrated the killer second goal from an unlikely source.
Ntcham controlled a headed clearance from Jullien before playing a perfectly weighted ball through to Hayes, whose initial shot was saved by McGregor but he quickly latched onto the rebound and coolly fired home with Rangers players surrounding him.
That signalled a mass departure of disgruntled Rangers fans who fired volleys of abuse at their own players and expletives towards the celebrating Celtic supporters.
Rangers’ misery continued just before the full time whistle was blown as Jordan Jones spat the dummy and scythed down Bauer injuring himself in the process, before being rewarded with a red card for his attempts to appease the Rangers supporters over what was a bang average performance from a side that seems to do all their talking in the papers and on social media rather than on the pitch - where it matters most.
Celtic have certainly not secured their ninth title in a row with this victory, but it has taken them one step closer to it and has inflicted psychological damage on the pretenders to their throne.
Glasgow remains Green and White.
CELTIC: Forster; Elhamed, Bitton (Bauer 66) Jullien, Bolingoli; McGregor, Brown, Christie, Forrest (Ntcham 66), Johnston (Hayes 84), Edouard
Subs: Gordon, Morgan, Bayo, Griffiths
RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Flanagan, Jack, Davis, Kamara (Ojo 45), Aribo (Jones 70), Arfield, Defoe (Morelos 60)
Subs: Helander, Foderingham, King, Barisic