Celtic dominate Ibrox as bubble bursts for hyped-up Gerrard — roundup

The deafening boom you might have heard yesterday was the sound of the Rangers’ bubble bursting.

Neil Lennon has lost only one game in all competitions, albeit a big one. With a 100 per cent record in the league and scoring goals like they’re going out of fashion, for some reason Rangers were favourites.

A glance at the tabloids showed only ONE of their combined sports writers had tipped Celtic for success.

Ibrox fans were also caught up in the hype and lumped on at the bookies, making Celtic a quite frankly ridiculous 2/1 against.

The last time they were this confident of beating Celtic was in spring of 2018, when they celebrated wildly at drawing us in the Scottish Cup.

Within a matter of weeks, they had been skelped to within an inch of their second lives.

Yesterday proved more of the same as Celtic’s much-maligned defence provided a solid platform for what turned out to be a rather comfortable day out in the sun.

Whether they were trying to keep a lid on their infamous songbook, the racist and sectarian one that falls on the deaf ears of the SFA, is up for debate as the home crowd were largely subdued.

Their tifo, inspired by an Iron Maiden album cover, or more likely by its use in the north of Ireland by loyalist paramilitaries, got the message across. However, if it was designed to intimidate, it didn’t work.

Neil Lennon, under the kind of scrutiny that Gerrard for some reason manages to avoid, has been hampered by having to use a makeshift backline.

Yesterday was no different as Nir Bitton was once again drafted in. Elhamed, Jullien and Bolingoli had question marks over them as they all made their debut in this fixture.

All the worries proved to be unfounded as the defence gave Celtic a solid platform to take control of the game and prove that Lennon, confounding his detractors, does indeed know how to set up a team.

The defence, to a man, was immense, meaning the returning Fraser Forster was rarely called into action.

Elhamed recovered after a clash of heads to excel both as right-back and then in the middle after Bitton had to go off, while Bolingoli showed his mettle to play on after a studs-up horror tackle on his knee could have ended his career never mind his match.

That Bobby Madden failed to see it, or failed to act on it if he did, was remarkable. Last season, Rangers were cited and given retrospective red cards on several occasions.

It would be good if a referee took action at the time and punished Rangers during the 90 minutes the offence took place. For balance, he also missed two separate yellow cards that could have been shown to McGregor.

Neither of McGregor’s misdemeanours, though, had the potential to ruin someone’s career and it wouldn’t be the last such assault on the day.

The gallant band of faithful, surrounded by the blue seats of Ibrox after mass evacuation

Celtic didn’t need Madden’s cards in the end, although that doesn’t excuse the referee or his assistants.

With Scott Brown, another written off, dominating the middle of the park, it was only a matter of time before Celtic took the lead. A slide-rule pass from Mikey Johnston saw Edouard race in on goal and slot home.

How many Chinese millions must the Frenchman be worth!

Rangers had, of course, elected to leave their £20m man (who “turned down £200k a week this summer”) on the bench. The best thing since sliced bread, or at least Moussa Dembele, was overlooked for the big occasion as he so often is.

By the time the angry man-child came on, Celtic’s defence could have been playing in their slippers. Indeed, that’s what Morelos appeared to be wearing as he fired a shot about 20 rows into the crowd knocking someone’s false teeth out.

The next time he got a chance, he proved this was no fluke, as he did the same thing again. Every lost tooth represents a million pounds “turned down” by Rangers for their “not for sale” seething ball of rage.

His only other contribution seemed to be to rake his studs down Scott Brown’s shin and deliberately stand on Jullien’s instep, while his pained expression provided much hilarity. Never has a team’s hero cut such a comical figure with rival fans.

It’s hard to see what the Colombian is actually useful for, although he would look good on the end of a pencil.

Celtic’s bench looked strong and Rangers wouldn’t be able to live with Jonny Hayes and Olivier Ntcham when they came on.

Scott Arfield, he of the mock Broony, tried to whip off the French midfielders shorts. He went into the notebook and onto the Register for that one.

Everybody wants to be Edouard

Ntcham, Edouard and Hayes would then combine to rip through Rangers and send the Irishman racing through on goal.

McGregor saved his first effort, but Hayes, as deadly as a Peaky Blinder, slotted home to send the Subway Loyal up the road and the Free Broomloan Corner, housing Celtic’s gallant band of faithful, into delirium.

There was still time for a final act of thuggery from Rangers. Jordan Jones, playing up to his WATP image, halved new Bhoy Moritz Bauer as he raced down the right.

Who he was trying to impress is anyone’s guess, as by this stage it looked as if Rangers had a domestic supporters ban to complement its UEFA one.

It was a potential career-ending assault on Bauer and, calculated as it was, Celtic fans would enjoy a final bit of schadenfreude to see Jones pictured on crutches after he deservedly injured himself in the process.

It served as an apt metaphor for Rangers, who marched into the fray with an illusion of “superiority” only to hobble home with nursing their wounds and their battered pride.

Elsewhere, there were other games this weekend, but let’s be honest, this was the only show in town. Time to watch it again!


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