Celtic moved five points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with an emphatic 4-0 victory against Rangers in the season’s first Old Firm derby.
Ange Postecoglou’s side were dealt an early blow when Kyogo was forced off clutching his shoulder after a challenge with John Lundstram.
However, they soon opened the scoring inside seven minutes from a quick throw-in. Matt O’Riley centred from the left-hand side as Liel Abada raced across the penalty box from the opposite side to fire a left-footed effort beyond Jon McLaughlin.
The Hoops could have doubled their advantage minutes later when substitute Giorgos Giakoumakis glanced a header inches wide from another O’Riley cross, from the opposite side on this occasion.
Rangers began to settle after a frenetic opening period, going close when Borna Barisic whipped a wicked delivery into the penalty area towards Antonio Colak. The Croatian could only steer his header wide.
Lundstram fired over from the edge of the area minutes later, but the Hoops dealt their rivals a serious blow when Jota doubled their lead on the half-hour mark. O’Riley slid a lovely pass through the Rangers defence after Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men had switched off from a quick free-kick before the Portuguese winger raced onto the ball and dinked a gorgeous finish over the onrushing McLaughlin.
It was deja vu from February’s 3-0 derby success for Celtic. Once again the Hoops cut their rivals open down the left-hand side as Greg Taylor flashed a cross into the penalty area. Rangers failed to clear the danger before Abada, unmarked at the back post, rifled his effort through the legs of McLaughlin.
Celtic continued to pour forward in search of a fourth goal after the interval, with O’Riley firing an effort at goal that was blocked en route to goal.
Van Bronckhorst sent for Alfredo Morelos before the hour-mark and the Colombian threatened at goal on a few occasions. After getting in a mix-up with Scott Wright from a cross, the forward later sent a shot wide from a tight angle after being sent through on goal.
Things went from bad to worse for the away side as Celtic were gifted their fourth goal of the game. Attempting to play out from the back, McLaughlin passed the ball straight to substitute David Turnbull who rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
Here’s how both teams rated on the day.
GK: Joe Hart – 6/10 – Barely had anything to contend with given Rangers’ lack of pressure on goal.
RB: Josip Juranovic – 7/10 – Stood tall against the threat of Kent. Really good at avoiding diving in early, and covered ground well.
CB: Cameron Carter-Vickers – 7/10 – Dealt with Colak on the ground, providing defensive assurance with his sound positioning at all times. Marshals the Hoops’ defensive line.
CB: Carl Starfelt – 6/10 – Really strong in aerial duels against the physical presence of Colak. Forced off injured which may concern Postecoglou.
LB: Greg Taylor – 7/10 – Played a really important role helping Celtic overload their rivals down the left-hand side. Flashed a ferocious cross into the penalty area for the Hoops to make it three.
CM: Callum McGregor – 8/10 – Helped Celtic play through Rangers’ press in the first half. Always aware of where his next pass needs to go.
CM: Reo Hatate – 7/10 – The star of the show when the Hoops raced out to a 3-0 lead against Rangers in February. Didn’t have the same influence here, but his first-time passing allowed his side to sustain their tempo.
CM: Matt O’Riley – 9/10 – Ran the show in midfield, creating the opening two goals. Has the perfect blend of physicality and cultured technique.
RW: Liel Abada – 8/10 – Finished superbly from O’Riley’s centre to open the scoring, before making it three for the Hoops before the interval. He relishes this fixture.
ST: Kyogo – N/A – Forced off inside the opening five minutes with a shoulder problem.
LW: Jota – 8/10 – Underlined his supreme quality with a terrific dinked finish to double Celtic’s lead. Really direct on the ball and caused Rangers problems down their right-hand side.
SUB: Giorgos Giakoumakis (4′ for Kyogo) – 7/10 – Offered Celtic a different presence in attack compared to Kyogo.
SUB: David Turnbull (72′ for O’Riley) – 6/10 – Stroked home the Hoops’ fourth of the game with a nice finish.
SUB: Daizen Maeda (72′ for Abada) – N/A
SUB: Aaron Mooy (72′ for Hatate) – N/A
Manager: Ange Postecoglou – 5/10 – Another emphatic derby victory for the Australian. His decision to pick Abada over Daizen Maeda paid off.
GK: Jon McLaughlin – 3/10 – Didn’t cover himself in glory for any of Celtic’s goals. Too weak for Abada’s goals and was too easily dinked by Jota for the second goal. Gifted the ball to Turnbull for the Hoops’ fourth.
RB: James Tavernier – 5/10 – Failed to narrow across sufficiently when Jota was played through for Celtic’s second goal. Lacked conviction when defending against the Portuguese winger.
CB: Connor Goldson – 5/10 – Reacted slowly for a couple of Celtic’s goals. Never seemed fully aware of his surroundings when the Hoops entered the penalty area.
CB: James Sands – 5/10 – Lacked the proactive nature required as a Rangers defender in these fixtures. Caught ball-watching for Celtic’s third goal of the first half.
LB: Borna Barisic – 6/10 – Booked inside the opening 20 minutes for a cynical pull-back on Abada, but he was Rangers’ greatest attacking threat. Whipped in crosses aplenty in the first half that the Gers ought to have converted from.
CM: John Lundstram – 4/10 – Required treatment early in the game and looked sluggish both in and out of possession. Lacked his usual verve.
CM: Steven Davis – 4/10 – Seemed to struggle with the pace of the game in midfield, especially when Celtic raced forward in attack.
CM: Glen Kamara – 4/10 – Barely made an influence in the game and was hooked at the interval.
RW: Malik Tillman – 4/10 – Showed a few promising touches in the final third, but he looked wasted on the right-hand side.
ST: Antonio Colak – 3/10 – Passed up a great chance to level for Rangers from Barisic’s delivery. The Gers certainly lacked Morelos’ physical presence in these games.
LW: Ryan Kent – 4/10 – Switched off twice from a quick throw-in and free-kick from Celtic. Both times led to goals. Showed promise going forward
SUB: Scott Wright (45′ for Kamara) – 5/10 – Offered pace, but his end product was absent.
SUB: Scott Arfield (59′ for Tillman) – 5/10 –
SUB: Alfredo Morelos (59′ for Colak) – 5/10 – Seemed to provide greater attacking thrust compared to Colak.
SUB: Ryan Jack (76′ for Lundstram) – N/A
SUB: Fashion Sakala (76′ for Kent) – N/A
Manager: Giovanni van Bronckhorst – 4/10 – Could do little to prevent Rangers switching off from throw-ins and free-kicks. The risk in playing Tillman on the right seemed to backfire, while his goalkeeper let him down.