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Celtic do Jock Stein proud with thumping win over off-colour Rangers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at full-time (SNS Group / Rob Casey)
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at full-time (SNS Group / Rob Casey)

IF Carlsberg did understudies…

Promoted into the Celtic side yesterday in place of the injured Leigh Griffiths, Moussa Dembele didn’t so much grab his chance as wrestle it to the ground and force victory by submission.

The 20-year-old Frenchman hadn’t scored a Scottish league goal prior to this sun-kissed reunion of the two great Glasgow rivals.

By the time the dust had settled on a lively match, which saw Rangers defender Philippe Senderos sent off and their assistant manager Davie Weir sent to the stands, Dembele had three goals plus an assist.

To put that into context, it was the first hat-trick in an Old Firm league fixture since 1966 when Stevie Chalmers netted a treble in another 5-1 victory for Celtic.

Victories by such a comprehensive margin, for either side, are rare.

And for Brendan Rodgers, yesterday’s was significant enough to invoke the memory of the legendary Jock Stein, who had died 31 years before to the day.

Celtic's Moussa Dembele celebrates at full-time (SNS Group / Craig Williamson)
Celtic’s Moussa Dembele celebrates at full-time (SNS Group / Craig Williamson)

“I spoke about Jock in my team talk,” he said.

“There were two today. My father, Malachy, is five years dead today so it was ironic we scored five goals.

“And obviously Jock Stein was 31 years today.

“One of his quotes talks about how football is only ever about getting the two points. Back then that’s what you got for winning.

“But when I spoke to the players before the game I said, ‘For us it’s about getting the three points.’

“But when you beat one of your rivals it’s a wee bit sweeter and that was the message.

“But it was primarily about the guy looking down, the man who set the tone for this club, the template.

“We said that if he is looking down, make sure we do him proud.”

Celtic's Scott Brown (right) with Joey Barton (SNS Group)
Celtic’s Scott Brown (right) with Joey Barton (SNS Group / Craig Williamson)

With this ultimately very comfortable win against a Rangers team who, to be fair, had their moments, they did just that.

Always keen to press when out of possession, when they had the ball, they used it intelligently, probing away until they got the goals.

Their first was as stunning as it was simplistic.

The ever-dangerous Scott Sinclair swung a high corner from the right and Dembele leapt high above Rob Kiernan, who hadn’t started off marking the striker, to send a bullet header into the far corner of the net.

Then, having waited eight weeks to break his Premiership duck, he took just eight more minutes to make it two.

This time Kiernan was definitely to blame as it was his pass forward which was intercepted by Tom Rogic who looked up before playing in Dembele.

The striker maybe hasn’t started as well in Scotland as he would have wished but has never lacked self-belief.

And here, amid all the sound and fury, he showed composure beyond his years leaving debutant Senderos on his backside with a neat pull-back before curling a shot beyond Wes Foderingham with the outside of his boot.

Rangers' Philippe Senderos (right) is shown a red card (SNS Group / Sammy Turner)
Rangers’ Philippe Senderos (right) is shown a red card (SNS Group / Sammy Turner)

Rangers had to respond quickly if the game was not to run away from them and they did just that with a goal that halved the deficit.

James Tavernier was the architect, pushing down the right before picking out Kenny Miller’s run to the back post.

Unmarked, he made full use of his time and space by heading across Celtic keeper Dorus de Vries. It would probably have gone in anyway but Joe Garner wasn’t about to take the chance and scrambled the ball over the line.

But if it set things up perfectly for a see-saw second half, the Hoops were not to be denied their comfort blanket of a two-goal lead.

This time Dembele turned provider, unlocking the Rangers defence for Sinclair with a clever ball to spring the offside trap and allow the winger to sprint forward and score.

Rangers' Barrie McKay at full time (SNS Group / Sammy Turner)
Rangers’ Barrie McKay at full time (SNS Group / Sammy Turner)

It was to get worse for Rangers who were then reduced to 10 men with Senderos sent off for a second bookable offence, a deliberate handball following his earlier caution for a rash challenge on Sinclair.

After that Weir went too, sent to the stands for venting his fury about a rash tackle committed on Barrie McKay.

And although this was a day when Celtic didn’t need any extra advantage, they were happy to take it.

Dembele again showed real calmness when making it four before substitute Stuart Armstrong made it five with a cool finish.


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