Celtic on brink of title after Old Firm victory

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Celtic on brink of title after Old Firm victory

Celtic all but wrapped up a third straight Scottish Premiership title with victory against 10-player Rangers in a frantic Old Firm clash.

With Brendan Rodgers’ side three points ahead with just three games remaining, Rangers knew they had to win the final league meeting of the season to keep their hopes alive.

The Hoops dominated from kick-off and Matt O’Riley finally broke the deadlock in the 35th minute after they had spurned a number of chances.

John Lundstram turned the ball into his own net immediately after the restart and was then sent off for a dangerous challenge after Cyriel Dessers pulled the visitors back into the match before half-time.

Celtic were awarded a penalty after Mohamed Diomande caught Alistair Johnston in the box. O’Riley stepped up only to be denied by Jack Butland.

Rodgers’ side should have been out of reach but in the end survived some late pressure to move six points clear with just two games remaining.

Celtic’s Old Firm dominance continues

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O’Riley opens the scoring against Rangers

The atmosphere was electric ahead of the game as the Celtic fans expected their team to all but seal the title, and only a brilliant save from Butland stopped them taking the lead almost from kick-off.

John Souttar turned James Forrest’s ball towards his own net, but Butland reacted to somehow keep it out.

It was deafening as the Hoops dominated and Butland once again saved Rangers as he tipped Forrest’s strike over the bar.

Team news

  • Daizen Maeda returned to Celtic’s starting XI, with Nicolas Kuhn making way.
  • Rangers made two changes with Ben Davies and Tom Lawrence in for Leon Balogun and Todd Cantwell.

O’Riley’s powerful free-kick then flew inches past the post before Fabio Silva had a huge chance for the visitors, but he sent his effort just wide of the far post.

It was back to Celtic, and this time Callum McGregor threatened, but the captain’s low strike from outside the box went agonisingly wide.

Seconds later Silva passed up an unbelievable chance, somehow heading Dujon Sterling’s cross wide from eight yards.

Player ratings

Celtic:Hart (7), Johnston (7), Carter-Vickers (7), Scales (7), Taylor (7), McGregor (8), O’Riley (8), Hatate (6), Maeda (8), Forrest (7), Kyogo (6)

Subs: Idah (5), Kuhn (4), Ralston (4), Iwata (4)

Rangers: Butland (8), Tavernier (5), Souttar (6), Davies (6), Barisic (4), Lundstram (2), Diomande (4), Lawrence (5), Sterling (8), Dessers (7), Silva (6)

Subs: McCausland (5), Raskin (6), Yilmaz (5), Wright (5), Roofe (5)

The frantic start showed no signs of fading as McGregor had a shot blocked before firing over the bar, then O’Riley flashed another effort just wide.

Butland again showed the form that has seen him tipped for an England return as he denied Kyogo Furuhashi from close range just after the half-hour mark.

What followed was five minutes of madness.

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A mistake by John Lundstram doubled Celtic’s lead

O’Riley fired in the opener from McGregor’s perfect pass before Lundstram turned Daizen Maeda’s ball into his own net to put the hosts two up.

But with the fans still celebrating that quick double, Dessers pulled Rangers back into it, heading past Joe Hart from close range.

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Lundstram was then sent off before the break

With half-time approaching, Rangers were down to 10, Lundstram sent off for a dangerous challenge on Johnston after a VAR check.

Diomande clipped Johnston in the box just after the break and Celtic were handed the chance to wrap things up when a penalty was awarded following a lengthy VAR check.

But Butland again stood firm to deny O’Riley from the spot before he reacted again minutes later to keep out McGregor’s strike from outside the box.

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Cyriel Dessers’ header pulls one back for Rangers

Maeda was well offside as he poked the ball into the net as the hosts continued to pile on the pressure.

Maeda had the ball in the net once more for the champions-elect but was again flagged offside before Rangers piled on some late pressure, but it was without reward with the Scottish Premiership trophy set to remain at Celtic Park for another season.

‘A great day for Celtic’

Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley told Sky Sports:

“We’re six points clear. We started the game well and had a few chances. I practised penalties yesterday and I was probably in two minds about it.”

James Forrest told Sky Sports:

“A great day. Even when Rangers had 11 men I thought we were really dominant. When they went down to 10, we just didn’t take our chances.”

What’s next?

Tuesday 14th May 6:30pm Kick off 7:30pm

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Both Celtic and Rangers are live on Sky for their next Scottish Premiership matches.

Philippe Clement’s side face Dundee at Dens Park on Tuesday night. Kick-off 7.30pm.

Celtic are away to Kilmarnock on Wednesday night. Kick-off 7.30pm.

Wednesday 15th May 6:30pm Kick off 7:30pm

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