Five Star Celtic in Derby Demolition
Ibrox stadium, Glasgow
Saturday 29th April
Rangers - 1 (Miller, 81)
Celtic - 5 (Sinclair 7, Griffiths 17, McGregor 51, Boyata 64, Lustig 86)
Celtic piled on the misery against their Glasgow rivals at Ibrox today with a stunning performance and 1-5 victory with goals from Sinclair, Griffiths, McGregor, Boyata and Lustig. In what was a five star performance, Brendan Rodgers men were relentless in possession of the ball and gave the hapless Rangers defence a torrid time. Pedro Caixinha was quoted as saying that he believed he was taking over the greatest squad in Scotland when he took the Rangers job. If his ignorance to the extent of the task that lay ahead wasn’t obvious then, the two showdowns with a vastly superior Celtic team in the last week will have been a firm wake-up call for the former stopper.
Brendan Rodgers said prior to the game that his only disappointment about the semi-final encounter last Sunday was that the hoops hadn’t won by more goals in what was a dominating 2-0 victory. Since his arrival at Ibrox, Caixinha has come out with some bizarre statements regarding his team and tactics and formations, and in his interview with Sky Sports before the game today he revealed that he would be deploying a diamond formation with the aim of preventing Scott Brown from dominating his Rangers midfield once more. For the second time in a week Pedro attempted to utilise a plan to nullify the Scotland captain, and for the second time in a week Pedro failed.
In the opening few minutes, Rangers appeared to be showing the type of aggression and energy that had been lacking at Hampden a week previous. However they found themselves up against it after only 7 minutes thanks to a moment of lunacy from left back Myles Beerman. The Maltese defender showed his inexperience with a needless lunge to win the ball in the penalty area, and Patrick Roberts was able to shift the ball and away before being bundled over by the onrushing defender. Scott Sinclair stepped forward to take the resultant penalty and for the second week in a row he kept his composure to slot the ball into the Rangers net.
Sinclair celebrates yet another derby goal with his teammates
It only took a little over ten minutes for the lead to be extended and for Rangers misery to be compounded. The ever-industrious Stuart Armstrong managed to dispossess the ball from Hyndman in the middle of the park before playing Leigh Griffiths through on goal. The Scottish striker, who had taken the injured Moussa Dembele’s place in the team, only needed to take one touch to set himself inside the penalty area, before rifling the ball into the roof of the net. Foderingham was left with no chance and there were signs of a humiliation early on. The midfield trio of Armstrong, Brown and McGregor were in cruise control throughout the game. Brown was cool, calm and collected with everything he did on the ball and Armstrong and McGregor showed great energy and movement throughout.
McGregor was awarded for his enthusiasm with a goal six minutes after the interval. Patrick Roberts gave Myles Beerman a torrid time all afternoon and it was the tricky English winger who started off the move which led to the third goal. Avoiding several challenges on the halfway line, he found McGregor in space in the Rangers half. The Hampden hero from last week drove at the Rangers defence and with the aid of a bit of good fortune, found space on the left hand side of the box before being found by Roberts again. He had the wherewithal and composure to take a few touches before slotting the ball under Tavernier’s legs and into the bottom right of the net. The game was well and truly over at this stage and if truth be told; the score line didn’t tell the full story as it could have been five or six to the hoops.
A picture worth a thousand words
One of the most impressive aspects of this Celtic team that has been prevalent since Brendan Rodgers took the job is the hunger to attack and score goals. Where most teams would be guilty of taking the foot off the gas at 0-3, Brendan Rodgers men could smell blood and pushed on to score more with wave after wave of attack. The back four were equally hungry and there was polished performances throughout. Boyata and Simunovic were dominant in the centre of the defence, while Lustig was steely and energetic as ever. 19 year old Kieran Tierney put in a man of the match performance in his first derby at Ibrox, defending with attitude and attacking with personality. It was Boyata that made it 0-4 though on 64 minutes. The Belgian centre half has proven to be a weapon from set pieces since his arrival to Glasgow and he was aided by a superbly whipped free kick from Leigh Griffiths before heading it into the net in front of the Broomloan stand.
With ten minutes on the clock remaining, there was a consolation for Rangers when old foe Kenny Miller played a one-two with Joe Garner before slotting the ball past Craig Gordon. The goal only served to irritate the bhoys however and they were back on the front foot immediately. If anyone loves beating Rangers in the current Celtic side then it is Mikael Lustig so it is fair to say he will have enjoyed piling on the misery with the fifth goal with four minutes remaining. The Swede had stamped his authority on the match throughout through his defensive duties but this time he showed to be just as competent in attack. The full back made a well timed interception just inside the Rangers half before storming through the Rangers midfield and side-stepping Danny Wilson, before expertly curling the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net from just outside the penalty area. It was a goal that appropriately rounded off a wonderful performance for him and his team.
Lustig and Brown enjoying another dominating performance over Rangers
The gulf between the two teams has never been in question over the season, but regardless of that there is no doubt that Brendan Rodgers, the players and the fans will be celebrating joyously at the demolition of their city rivals on their own backyard. All sorts of records have been broken this season and while there are potentially more to come before the Scottish Cup final on 27 May, few have been sweeter than inflicting the worst humiliation on a Rangers team at Ibrox since 1897. It is difficult to see where a Rangers resurgence will come from, as the gap between themselves and the green and white side of Glasgow has only appeared to widen as the season has gone on – with Celtic showing signs of improvement all over the park. Today’s performance was symbolic of that improvement; with an exhilarating performance going forward supported by a commanding defence, while Brown, Armstrong and McGregor had the cigars out throughout.
With the improvement that has taken place over the course of the season at Parkhead and with Brendan Rodgers recently confirming that he would like to add a couple of ‘quality’ additions to his team in order to make a mark on Europe next season, there are exciting times ahead for Bhoys all over the world. In what would be a fitting tribute to the Lisbon Lions on the 50th anniversary of the clubs European Cup triumph over Internazionale in Lisbon, there is still the potential of a domestic treble with Aberdeen being the final obstacle in a final showdown at Hampden on Saturday 27th May. Until then, Hoops fans can rest easy knowing that the clubs 48th untainted title is sealed and waiting to be delivered on trophy day, and that Glasgow is well and truly Green and White.
Good times ahead: Celtic fans in party mode