Rangers compound Celtic’s sorry season with 4-1 hammering
Hoops’ crisis situation gets worse as blue side of Glasgow move further into the ascendancy
Rangers’ Jermain Defoe celebrates scoring their side’s fourth goal of the game during the Scottish Premiership match against Celtic at Ibrox. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Rangers 4 Celtic 1
Unwanted parallels between this season and the one of 1999-2000 keep on coming for Celtic. Back then, an ill-fated project involving John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish left the club in dire need of a reset, which was subsequently provided by Martin O’Neill. This Celtic side – bereft of leadership, confidence, honours and in many cases necessary levels of talent – has lurched towards identical territory. Rangers have now gone unbeaten in a full campaign of Old Firm matches for the first time since Barnes, and subsequently Dalglish, were shown the door.
Ending a 21-year run was derby motivation for Rangers, as was the need to respond positively to last weekend’s Scottish Cup exit at the hands of St Johnstone. Steven Gerrard’s men were comprehensive winners; they have just two more matches to negotiate in a Premiership season where the loss column remains untouched. Celtic, 23 points adrift of the champions, are in need of binoculars. Rangers embarrassed their oldest foes, with the gulf between the teams emphasised by Jermain Defoe’s stoppage-time goal.
An entertaining first period was in evidence before Rangers claimed the lead. Alfredo Morelos should have sent the hosts in front but instead totally miscued from James Tavernier’s cross. Celtic’s Mohamed Elyounoussi watched a swerving effort from 30 yards tipped on to the bar by Allan McGregor.
Rangers’ opener meant double trouble for Celtic. That Kemar Roofe turned a Ryan Kent pass into the net with his chest was notable enough, before a second yellow card was issued to Callum McGregor. Nick Walsh, the referee, had played advantage after the Celtic midfielder upended Glen Kamara during the buildup.
Celtic, still under the caretaker management of John Kennedy, did initially bite back. Odsonne Édouard notched from close range after Kristoffer Ajer headed a David Turnbull corner into his path. By the interval, Rangers had edged ahead again as Morelos bamboozled Scott Brown before finishing high beyond Scott Bain.
Celtic’s most meaningful hope of unlikely salvation arrived before Rangers scored a third. Turnbull should have done better than send a diving header wide from James Forrest’s excellent cross. Roofe proved more ruthless, with a late run virtually ignored by a passive Celtic defence to score with his head. Borna Barisic was the creator.
Defoe, in what may be one of his final acts as a Rangers player, stole in after Ismaila Soro inexplicably gave away possession. Defoe’s reaction showed the value of an Old Firm goal to him at the age of 38. Celtic had signed off with a whimper. – Guardian