Rangers were never overawed by their oldest foes and should, in fact, have been further ahead by the time Moussa Dembélé brilliantly restored first-half parity, but the visitors generally looked the more menacing side and particularly after the interval. Brendan Rodgers and his players thereby head into the Scottish top flight’s winter break while holding an inevitably unassailable 19-point lead, as well as retaining a game in hand. Rodgers has won his first three Old Firm games as manager, a record unmatched throughout Celtic history.
That said, Rangers had given Celtic an early scare. Swarming around their opponents and utilising the excellent Barrie McKay in attack, Rangers opened as the stronger team. The effervescent Kenny Miller endorsed that scenario with a tap-in from James Tavernier’s cross. Rangers should have doubled that lead, Tavernier instead failing to pick out Martyn Waghorn with the simplest of scoring tasks awaiting the striker.
When Celtic woke, they punished Rangers’ wastefulness. Moments after Scott Sinclair had struck the inside of a Rangers post, Dembélé crashed home from the angle of the penalty area having been allowed crucial time to control a corner kick. It was a goal befitting grander football scenes than a squally day in Glasgow.
Dembélé wasted a glorious opportunity to send his team ahead within five minutes of the restart. James Forrest and Sinclair missed subsequent Celtic chances, Dembélé hitting the crossbar in the midst of these attacking waves.
A Celtic winner was coming – it duly arrived as Sinclair found himself in glorious isolation at the back post. The former Aston Villa player this time made no mistake as a Rangers inquest as to why Sinclair was essentially left alone took place.
Miller came the closest to snatching a point with a shot which rebounded from the post. On the grounds of effort alone, Rangers may feel hard done by; a colder analysis of proceedings would show that this high-flying Celtic team, as so often the case in this campaign, were well worthy of victory.
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