Celtic 0-2 Rangers: visitors make title statement with dominant win


Connor Goldson side-footed home his second to secure victory for Rangers
Connor Goldson side-footed home his second to secure victory for Rangers

Rangers inflicted the first Old Firm derby blow in a historic Scottish Premiership campaign – and moved four points clear at the top – with a dominant 2-0 win at Celtic Park.

In the first Glasgow derby without fans, Steven Gerrard’s side took an early lead when Connor Goldson headed in James Tavernier’s free-kick.

And the Rangers centre-back then also tapped in after the break to finish off a lacklustre and unfamiliar Celtic side shorn of four players due to Covid-19 protocols.

The win laid down a marker in a significant season, as the Ibrox side attempt to prevent their city rivals from winning an unprecedented 10th consecutive title.

Neil Lennon’s team do still have a game in hand and were without star striker Odsonne Edouard and key midfielder Ryan Christie, but were nonetheless outclassed again in the unique fan-less derby.

Despite losing two of the three Old Firm meetings last season, Gerrard’s team could rightly lay claim to having looked the more accomplished side in those games.

They won the midfield battle in two of the three contests, and started in exactly the same vein with crisp passing and movement in this one.

Celtic – with five derby debutants in their ranks, including academy player Stephen Welsh at centre-back – looked unsure of themselves in possession.

The cauldron atmosphere can be suffocating in these games, but a lack of fans resulted in a more compelling tactical battle, which Rangers had the better of.

Tavernier and Borna Barisic roamed down the flanks and into spaces vacated by Celtic’s wing-backs, combining with Ryan Kent and Brandon Barker at will.

What Gerrard’s side can always rely on is quality of delivery from captain Tavernier, and his fine free-kick allowed Goldson to steer Rangers in front after just eight minutes. Celtic only managed a forlorn lob over the top from Mohamed Elyounoussi in reply before the break after he had impressively robbed Goldson.

The champions’ first-half display conformed to their recent form – if not results – as they lacked tempo and urgency. Lennon made no changes at the break, and his side continued to struggle with movement in forward areas.

Patryk Klimala was anonymous up front while Albian Ajeti made little impact when he came on midway through the second period.

Rangers, meanwhile, showed their sharpness in stretching their advantage as Scott Arfield, Glen Kamara and Alfredo Morelos all combined on the edge of the box before the former’s delivery fell to Goldson to bundle home at the second attempt.

Kent was twice denied by a lunging Kristoffer Ajer as Rangers threatened to embarrass their rivals on their own patch, while Celtic’s only flirtation with goal came when substitute Leigh Griffiths managed to round Allan McGregor but could not find the target.

The fact Celtic – who have secured 53 points from a possible 57 since the last meeting between the sides – did not manage a shot on target illustrates the scale of Rangers’ comfort.

Man of the match – Glen Kamara

Despite Goldson's two goals, Kamara oozed class in midfield and was consistently involved in Rangers' build-up, while he expertly nulled the threat of Jeremie Frimpong at wing-back
Despite Goldson’s two goals, Kamara oozed class in midfield and was consistently involved in Rangers’ build-up play, while he expertly nullified the threat of Jeremie Frimpong at wing-back.

What did we learn?

Rangers have undoubtedly worked out how to get the better of their rivals. Once again they shut them down in midfield and exerted control through their passing and composure. It was a complete performance.

What remains to be seen is whether this is a significant step forward. We have seen excellent Old Firm performances before from Gerrard’s side, with no trophies to show for it. We will only know whether they are the real deal this time if they are in the fight come April – but the signs are good.

As for Celtic, it seems Lennon’s favoured 3-5-2 formation is not working, which is alarming given the recruitment was focussed on filling those specific positions. Next to Rangers, they looked like a team without a clear identity, but rather a clutch of individuals who are performing below their ability.

The positive for them is that nothing is won in October, and they are the experts at bouncing back from rare defeats. Nonetheless there is undoubted concern about their current level of performance.

What’s next?

Both sides are in Europa League action on Thursday. Rangers travel to Belgium to face Standard Liege (17:55 BST), while it doesn’t get any easier for Celtic, who host AC Milan (20:00 BST).

Player of the match

GoldsonConnor Goldson

Celtic

  1. Squad number35Player nameAjer

  2. Squad number57Player nameWelsh

  3. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor

  4. Squad number93Player nameLaxalt

  5. Squad number4Player nameDuffy

  6. Squad number30Player nameFrimpong

  7. Squad number8Player nameBrown

  8. Squad number1Player nameBarkas

  9. Squad number21Player nameNtcham

  10. Squad number9Player nameGriffiths

  11. Squad number11Player nameKlimala

  12. Squad number27Player nameElyounoussi

  13. Squad number10Player nameAjeti

  14. Squad number3Player nameTaylor

  15. Squad number18Player nameRogic

  16. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull

Rangers

  1. Squad number6Player nameGoldson

  2. Squad number18Player nameKamara

  3. Squad number2Player nameTavernier

  4. Squad number14Player nameKent

  5. Squad number31Player nameBarisic

  6. Squad number5Player nameHelander

  7. Squad number37Player nameArfield

  8. Squad number10Player nameDavis

  9. Squad number8Player nameJack

  10. Squad number1Player nameMcGregor

  11. Squad number20Player nameMorelos

  12. Squad number11Player nameItten

  13. Squad number21Player nameBarker

  14. Squad number17Player nameAribo

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 1Barkas
  • 57WelshSubstituted forTurnbullat 84′minutes
  • 4DuffyBooked at 85mins
  • 35Ajer
  • 30Frimpong
  • 8BrownBooked at 61mins
  • 21NtchamSubstituted forRogicat 67′minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 93LaxaltSubstituted forTaylorat 84′minutes
  • 11KlimalaSubstituted forGriffithsat 67′minutes
  • 27ElyounoussiSubstituted forAjetiat 56′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Taylor
  • 9Griffiths
  • 10Ajeti
  • 12Soro
  • 14Turnbull
  • 18Rogic
  • 29Bain
  • 52Henderson
  • 56Ralston

Rangers

  • 1McGregor
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 5Helander
  • 31Barisic
  • 37ArfieldBooked at 60minsSubstituted forAriboat 90′minutes
  • 10Davis
  • 18Kamara
  • 21BarkerSubstituted forJackat 62′minutes
  • 20MorelosBooked at 85minsSubstituted forIttenat 86′minutes
  • 14Kent

Substitutes

  • 3Bassey
  • 7Hagi
  • 8Jack
  • 9Defoe
  • 11Itten
  • 17Aribo
  • 22Jones
  • 26Balogun
  • 33McLaughlin

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