Home » Europe, Latest, Scotland » Match Report: Celtic 3 Rangers 0

They came to bury Rangers, all right. The 52,000 Hoops fans in attendance at the final Old Firm derby demonstrated as much with a magnificently ghoulish display of massed black flags (fashioned from bin bags) and cardboard tombstones – supplemented by a vast banner depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Neil Lennon, the Taxman, Death and Craig Whyte.

On the field, Rangers made no changes to the team which had eased to a 3-0 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle eight days previously, but that was as much resemblance to a winning side as they could muster on this occasion. At Ibrox on March 25 – when Celtic could have won the title – Ally McCoist’s players summoned every sinew of their hearts and souls to avoid such an ignominious addition to their chronicles.

That crisis was averted by a 3-2 victory – wholly merited, despite two late goals for Celtic which threw the issue into doubt – but Rangers had exhausted their reserves of defiance, as was soon evident when play got under way this time around. At Tynecastle Rangers withdrew their outfield players en masse when they conceded corner kicks.

The yielding of acres of outfield space was noted by Celtic and when they won their first corner Kris Commons pitched his delivery over the crowded penalty to find Charlie Mulgrew stealing in from midfield.

Mulgrew played his part with panache hurling himself to connect with a header that cannoned off the ground and looped over Allan McGregor’s head before the goalkeeper could adjust to the ricochet. In that instant, Rangers were a beaten team, as their body language expressed all too articulately for the comfort of their fans.

The home crowd, by contrast, could now uncork every celebratory taunt and chorus at their disposal – and how they relished the task. The half -hour was bookmarked by goal No 2, another delightful example of the art of scoring.

This time it originated in an area that should have been simple for Rangers to corral. Instead, Scott Brown was able to scoop the ball along the very margin of the pitch for Gary Hooper to apply deft control and switch an infield pass into the path of Commons, who scampered into the box to finish with a delightfully dinked shot over McGregor’s diving body.

The impression that Celtic could score at will was reinforced nine minutes after the break. McGregor had just diverted a full-blooded effort from Joe Ledley at the expense of a corner kick but he could do nothing to halt Hooper’s slashing drive from the edge of the box.

By this stage in the proceedings a historic rout was on the cards. Yet something decidedly odd occurred. Celtic eased off. Yes, the championship had long been stowed away and, yes, the match was completely in their control but, with Brown acting as conductor deep in midfield the Dead March gave way to gentle muzak – at least on the pitch.

In the stands, the Celtic supporters continued to rattle through their songbook, yet here, too, there seemed to be the sense that there could almost be too much of a good thing. Fanciful? Perhaps – but when the Rangers corner produced its own Poznan in response to Celtic’s mass Huddle, there was definitely good natured applause from the home ranks in front of the media seats.

And, in a game that was preceded by the resounding notes of Verdi’s Triumphal March, the music for the closing credits was When Will I See You Again?

Is this the beginning? For Celtic, it certainly looks as though a prolonged period of dominance is under way.

Or is it the end? In a couple of days, financially stricken Rangers should know the answer to that. But if they go under, there is a crowd in the east end of Glasgow who will be deprived of the sweet and sour joy of arch-rivalry.


Match details

Celtic (4-4-2): Forster; Matthews, Loovesns, Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Brown, Wanyama, Ledley, Commons (McCourt 85); Samaras (Stokes 82), Hooper (Watt 89). Subs: Zaluska (g), Wilson, Cha, McGeough. Booked: Brown.

Rangers (4-5-1): McGregor; Bartley, Goian, Bocanegra, Wallace; Little (Kerkar 73), McCabe (Ness 57), Whittaker, Edu, Aluko; McCulloch. Subs: Alexander (g), Healy, Bedoya, Ross, Broadfoot. Booked: Wallace, Bartley.

Referee: C Murray.

Tags: ,

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.