Ruth­less Hoops dish out derby hu­mil­i­a­tion

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - ANDY NEWPORT

Rangers Celtic

CELTIC dished out one last hu­mil­i­a­tion to hap­less Rangers as this rout took them to within five games of an un­beaten do­mes­tic cam­paign. The away fans lapped up ev­ery mo­ment of this sea­son’s sixth and fi­nal duel as Brendan Rodgers’ un­de­feated troops out­classed a fee­ble Rangers line-up from start to fin­ish.

Early goals from Scott Sin­clair and Leigh Grif­fiths robbed the hosts of any be­lief they had left be­fore Cal­lum McGre­gor, Dedryck Boy­ata and Mikael Lustig’s sec­ond-half strikes handed Celtic their big­gest ever Ibrox win. Kenny Miller’s late re­ply was no con­so­la­tion.

While Rangers’ hopes of fin­ish­ing sec­ond are all but gone, their old ri­vals now need only ne­go­ti­ate their fi­nal four league games and the Scot­tish Cup fi­nal against Aberdeen to com­plete a loss-free league sea­son and his­toric tre­ble.

De­spite Rangers man­ager Pe­dro Caix­inha adding the at­tack­ing in­tent of Josh Win­dass and Joe Dodoo and the de­fen­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of vet­eran Clint Hill to his team, there was no real re­sis­tance.

Such were the con­fi­dence lev­els among the away sup­port­ers, they even cheered as the home team was read out.

Rangers needed to avoid go­ing be­hind early, but they lasted just seven min­utes be­fore con­ced­ing. Myles Beer­man was again start­ing at left-back for Caix­inha’s team but the 18-year-old’s in­ex­pe­ri­ence showed as he need­lessly dived in on Pa­trick Roberts inside the box. Sin­clair sent Wes Foder­ing­ham the wrong way from the spot.

Things would only get worse for Rangers as they found it im­pos­si­ble to stop their ri­vals flood­ing for­ward. While the hosts’ pass­ing was er­ratic, Celtic’s ex­changes seemed laser-guided.

And they struck again after 18 min­utes. Stu­art Arm­strong robbed Emer­son Hyn­d­man in mid­field be­fore spray­ing the ball to Grif­fiths, with the striker rip­ping a sen­sa­tional drive past Foder­ing­ham.

That Rangers reached the in­ter­val just two goals down seemed a mi­nor mir­a­cle. Caix­inha looked to stiffen up his mid­field by swap­ping the anony­mous Dodoo for Andy Hal­l­i­day.

But the tide con­tin­ued to flow in one direc­tion and it took Celtic just six min­utes from the restart to stretch their lead. Rangers sur­ren­dered posses­sion and McGre­gor made them pay as he net­ted through James Tav­ernier’s legs from 12 yards out. And when Boy­ata was al­lowed to jump unchecked from a Grif­fiths free-kick on 66 min­utes, that was the cue for the Rangers faith­ful to head for the ex­its.

Miller did beat Gor­don with 10 min­utes left after swap­ping passes with Joe Gar­ner, but even then Celtic did not re­lent and Lustig wrapped up Celtic’s sec­ond five-goal derby dis­play of the sea­son.

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