Celtic on verge of ANOTHER title as Brendan Rodgers extinguishes Rangers title dream – 5 talking points

Matt O'Riley struck a stunner and survived a penalty miss as Celtic moved to the brink of the title.

The Danish star’s blistering opener set the champions on their way to a massive success which has planted one hand firmly on the Premiership trophy. John Lundstram endured a story of horror for Rangers which began moments after O’Riley’s strike when he turned Daizen Maeda’s low cross into his own net as the hosts moved clear before the interval.

Cyriel Dessers instantly reduced the deficit for Philippe Clement’s header with a close-range header, but Lundstram’s wild tackle on Alistair Johnston, which was upgraded from yellow to red by ref Willie Collum left the visitors in huge trouble. O’Riley had a chance to kill it off early in the second period with a penalty kick. Yet, although his effort was saved by the outstanding Jack Butland, Celtic were able to keep their composure and lead to extend further away at the summit.

Brendan Rodgers was again the Old Firm winner. It is now 13 successes in 17 matches against Rangers over two spells. With a six-point lead and two games to go, as well as a goal difference advantage of seven, the trophy looks booked again for Parkhead.

For Clement, it’s zero win from three derby clashes. And, despite having mounted a vaillant challenge since his arrival to replace Michael Beale, it’s into miracle territory for the Belgian and the Light Blues in title terms.

Celtic were deserved victors. They had the better of the game and made the most chances. Rangers fought having been reduced to 10 men for a second-straight match at the venue, but didn’t do enough. The hosts went flying at it and almost scored inside the opening minute when James Forrest ripped to the byeline and crossed and Butland’s had to superbly stop Souttars attempted clearance.

O’Riley whipped a free-kick just wide before Rangers had a big chance which Fabio Silva dragged wide. The Portuguese had another good chance with a header which he also wasted, while Callum McGregor had a trio of cracks at target.

Butland produced again for his team with a reflex save to deny Kyogo Furuhashi, but he had no chance when O’Riley got another look 10 minutes from half-time. The Danish international took one touch from a McGregor pass and rifled a strike to beat the Ibrox keeper at his near post.

It was lift-off in Glasgow’s east end and it turned almost chaotic moments later when the champions extended their lead. Cameron Carter-Vickers started the move with a raking pass that Maeda managed to bring down and sprint for the byeline.

His cutback went straight into the path of the backtracking Lundstram who nudged it into his own net. Rangers looked dead and buried, yet, almost instantly, they hauled themselves back into it through Dessers.

Borna Barisic delivered a deep cross which was headed back into the danger by Dujon Sterling. Dessers was waiting to pounce and he controlled his finish into the net past an exposed Joe Hart.

If that gave them Clement’s side some momentum, Lundstram halted it almost instantly with his moment of madness. The Scouser crashed through a tackle with Johnston and Collum took advice from VAR referee Steven McLean to upgrade a yellow from a red. McLean and Collum had to speak again seven minutes after the interval when Mohamed Diomande caught O’Riley in the box.

The first goalscorer got the chance to net his second of the day from 12 yards after the screens confirmed the initial decision, but the taker’s casual stroke to Butland’s left was pushed away by the keeper. Celtic could not put the 10 men to bed. Butland saved from McGregor and Maeda had the ball in the net only for a flag to rule offside.

A man light, Rangers were camped in waiting a break or a set-piece chance. They scrapped and fought, but were able to fashion the big chance to level. Maeda had a second effort ruled out for offside in the final moments, but, although Butland went forward for late set pieces and it got a bit anxious in the home stands, Celtic got the win. Record Sport looks at FIVE talking points from Parkhead.


Celtic’s in-demand playmaker produced another devastating contribution in an Old Firm with his stunning opener and show. The Danish star had returned to his very best leading up to the contest and he had sighters before he found his range.

The finish was outstanding and gave the champions a platform on which they built. He was everywhere, probing and prompting and making the team tick. Scoring the penalty would have made life a lot less stressful for the champions in the final seconds, but he was one of the ones dragging them over the line with defensive work to show both sides of his game. He’s been massive this season with McGregor and Hatate having had spells of absence.


The Rangers manager had used words such as gladiators and Colosseum in the build-up to the game and perhaps the messaging fired one of them up too much. Pre-match, the squad’s markers were laid out right in front of the Green Brigade section as they showed a willingness to tackle the environment.

However, there has to be control and Lundstram just did not have it when he took the split-second decision to thunder through Johnston. It was just at the time when Rangers had dampened Celtic’s fire after they had gone two goals ahead. However, the red card ended their hopes. It’s five Premiership dismissals this term and a second one at Parkhead. It’s hard enough to beat the champions with 11 men, never mind 10.


Rodgers had a massive decision to make in terms of his wide starters and he plumped for Forrest and Maeda. Forrest hit the bye line within a minute and Maeda had robbed and also skipped past James Tavernier in the first 10. Both were superb. Maeda’s blistering pace led to the own goal from Lundstram which gave Celtic a cushion for a short spell.

Rangers, on the other hand, got little. Dujon Sterling was named on the right for Rangers, but it didn’t work and Fabio Silva missed two big chances from the other side in another weak show. Maeda kept going until the end and Nicolas Kuhn did well replacing Forrest, while Ross McCausland did very little when he appeared for the second half. The wide men were vital.


Clement made a big decision in the middle of the park with his call to go with Tom Lawrence. He was detailed to be advanced and get into the areas where Callum McGregor would operate. It is not natural for him to try and cover and the Celtic captain had disappeared into the distance when he took possession and set-up O’Riley for the opener. It was proving a hard enough for him to have an influence, but Lundstram’s red blew him out of the game. Nicolas Raskin was one called from the bench and, circumstance or not, that didn’t say a lot for Todd Cantwell’s situation. Even before the red card, the Rangers engine-room wasn’t getting involved enough. Afterwards, it was an even bigger struggle.


Referee Willie Collum took charge of an Old Firm derby for the 10th time and he had plenty to deal with during the match. Naturally, the big call was the red card which, initially, the whistler deemed as a yellow before taking advice from Steven Mclean to have a look at VAR. McLean got himself involved again at the penalty incident involving O’Riley in the second period. It’s impossible to know if the long delay between award and strike unsettled him, but it was a weak kick. Collum managed to keep on top of it for the majority of the contest.