Celtic show up difference in standards against Rangers

First Old Firm game in for three years sees Hoops book League Cup final spot

Celtic 2 Rangers 0

For Celtic, the pursuit of a domestic treble continues with confirmation of a place in the League Cup final. Dundee United lie in wait next month. For Rangers, confirmation that they are not in any position to lay a glove on their age-old foes. If, indeed, such a point even needed to be endorsed.

This Old Firm occasion, the first since 2012, bore all the hallmarks of the ones which came before. The 2015 difference is a glaring gap between the teams and which is hardly the fault of Celtic, who went about their business perfectly professionally here. Still, the lack of jubilation from the green-and-white contingent in the stands told a story about the weakness of the opposition.

Save for an early spell, Celtic themselves were not even that impressive. They did not have to be.


Victory was secured by half-time. Leigh Griffiths, who met a Stefan Johansen cross to head past Steve Simonsen, and Kris Commons had sent Ronny Deila's team two goals to the good by that point.

Although Rangers improved in the second half, they never looked capable of mustering a meaningful reply. The Ibrox club continues as dysfunctional in an off-field sense but the complete regression in footballing standards, a damaging legacy of Ally McCoist’s tenure as manager, cannot be ignored.

Griffiths’s recent prominence has proved a success story for Deila. The forward was completely unchallenged at the back post when putting his team in front. Johansen, too, is due credit for a fine cross.

Commons blasted home from 22 yards after Nicky Law had blocked the advancing Scott Brown. Celtic's unwillingness to secure Commons on a new contract – his current deal expires in the summer – remains baffling given his positive influence on the team.

Craig Thomson, the referee, saved Rangers thereafter with a ludicrous decision not to play advantage with Griffiths through on goal; Brown had earlier been fouled by Ian Black. Simonsen, too, helped his team with a smart stop from Johansen.

The second period proved something of a bitty, scrappy non-event. Celtic either were not willing or capable of inflicting further pain on Rangers. The Championship team were not able to force Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal into any kind of proper action at all. By full-time, Gordon was in the bizarre position of not having made a single save. Which rather said it all.

(Guardian service)