Celtic 3 Rangers 0: More misery for Ibrox men as Hoops cruise to Old Firm triumph
14:38 GMT, 29 April 2012
Celtic added to the woes of administration-hit Rangers with a comprehensive win over their Old Firm rivals in their final Clydesdale Bank Premier League meeting of the season at Parkhead.
Goals from defender Charlie Mulgrew and midfielder Kris Commons, his first of the season, gave the rampant champions a commanding interval lead.
Striker Gary Hooper scored with a thumping drive soon after the break and it looked for a spell as if the home side were going to hand out a real hammering to the Govan men.
Breakthrough: Charlie Mulgrew (No 21) runs off to celebrate scoring the opening goal for Celtic
Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Loovens, Mulgrew, Izaguirre, Commons (McCourt 85), Brown, Wanyama, Ledley, Samaras (Stokes 81), Hooper (Watt 89).
Subs not used: Zaluska, Kelvin Wilson, Cha, McGeouch.
Goals: Mulgrew 17, Commons 31, Hooper 54
Rangers: McGregor, Bartley, Goian, Bocanegra, Whittaker, McCabe (Ness 57), Edu, Wallace, Aluko, Little (Kerkar 72), McCulloch.
Subs not used: Alexander, Broadfoot, Healy, Bedoya, Perry.
Booked: Wallace, Bartley
Referee: Calum Murray (Scotland)
However, three goals were enough for
the celebrating Celtic fans who can brag of a 21-point lead over their
old rivals, an indication of their superiority this season, even in
light of the 10 points Rangers were deducted in February for entering
Celtic showed the strength of their
squad by bringing back five of their star players. Goalkeeper Fraser
Forster, right-back Adam Matthews, stopper Glenn Loovens, skipper Scott
Brown and striker Georgios Samaras all returned for the last Glasgow
derby of the season.
Out went Thomas Rogne, Ki Sung-yueng,
Pawel Brozek, Lukasz Zaluska and Cha Du-ri, the latter two starting on
the bench along with 18-year-old striker Tony Watt, who scored two goals
on his debut at Motherwell last week.
Gers boss Ally McCoist named the same side which beat Hearts last week with Lee McCulloch leading the line.
It was a peculiar build-up to the
game due to Celtic having wrapped up the title last month and the
problems of the Ibrox club who are fighting for their very survival,
amid a seemingly endless search to find a buyer.
But as Hoops boss Neil Lennon took
his seat in the stand – he was serving the second of a two-match
touchline ban for criticising referee Willie Collum following the
Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat to Kilmarnock in March –
the fans were in full voice.
Dink: Kris Commons lifts the ball over Rangers keeper Allan McGregor for Celtic's second
Rangers looked decent enough in the
early stages and in the 16th minute they missed a good chance when
midfielder Rhys McCabe robbed Brown in the middle of the park with a
He fed Steven Whittaker who in turned
played in Andrew Little but the Gers striker failed to connect properly
with his angled-shot from 14 yards and Forster saved comfortably.
A minute later Celtic were ahead
through Mulgrew with their first corner of the match. Commons' cross
from the right missed the mass of bodies in the middle to find the
unmarked Celtic defender rushing in to bullet a header past Allan
I'm up here: Boss Neil Lennon, serving a touchline ban, celebrates Celtic's second goal
The Ibrox defence had to hold firm as
the home side went looking for the second, trying to stretch Rangers
down the flanks through Emilio Izaguirre and Matthews.
However, their task became even more difficult just after the half-hour mark when Celtic went two ahead through Commons.
Brown's pass to Hooper was quickly
moved infield to the Scotland international who took advantage of
Rangers defender Kyle Bartley's missed tackle to go through on goal and
delightfully chip the ball over the advancing McGregor.
Kris it better: Commons enjoys his Old Firm goal as Celtic take charge at Parkhead
The Ibrox side looked close to
unravelling amid the din from the home fans. Celtic midfielder Joe
Ledley got on the end of a Commons cross to head wide of the back post
before McGregor made a great save from Hoops defender Victor Wanyama,
whose drive from the edge of the box looked goalbound and it was a
bedraggled looking Rangers who welcomed the half-time whistle.
Damage limitation may have been theme
of McCoist's half-time team talk and certainly the early stages of the
second half did little to suggest a comeback was on the cards.
No holding back: Rangers defender Kyle Bartley tackles Celtic striker Giorgios Samaras
Celtic were quicker and sharper,
switching play from left to right with ease and no little confidence and
in the 51st minute the tireless Izaguirre's lofted cross from the left
just avoided Hooper, two yards from goal.
A minute later Rangers had to thank
McGregor for a brilliant save from Ledley's dipping volley from 20
yards, and the keeper made another block from Wanyama following the
However, it merely delayed Celtic's
third which came in the 53rd minute when Samaras played in Hooper and he
hammered the ball high past the helpless Scotland No 1.
Leading by example: Celtic skipper Scott Brown (2nd left) was in the party mood after Mulgrew's opener
As the Light Blues fans sang non-stop
in defiance, certain in their side's defeat, Celtic took a breather but
remained well in control.
In the 73rd minute Rangers substitute
Salim Kerkar, on for Little, had half a chance when the ball broke
kindly for him in a challenge with Wanyama but his chip from a tight
angle sailed over.
Two minutes later Bartley, suffering a
wretched afternoon, was booked for a foul on Izaguirre on the touchline
which had the home fans on their feet in understandable anger.
With seven minutes remaining and the
game petering out, Forster made a decent save from Sone Aluko's
free-kick at the expense of a corner which came to nothing.
Brown picked up a yellow card for a foul on Kerkar near the end but that did not detract from a convincing Celtic win.