Celtic captain Scott Brown dismissed talk of Rangers challenging for the Scottish title after his side twice trailed and played more than 30 minutes a man short yet won 3-2 at Ibrox on Sunday.
Substitute Odsonne Edouard’s winner for the 10 men, 21 minutes from time opened up a nine-point lead over Rangers. Celtic also have a game in hand at the top of the table as they close in on a seventh straight Premiership title.
“We’ve come here four times and won four games, so we believe we can win here all the time now,” said Brown, afer Celtic ended a Rangers six-game winning run that had sparked suggestions of an unlikely title challenge.
“They did a lot of talking beforehand – we stayed quiet. We usually do our talking on the park.”
Rangers’ wait for a first league win over Celtic since 2012 continues, but they looked set to stretch their recent fine run when they twice went in front through Josh Windass and Daniel Candeias in the first-half.
Rangers failed to hold either lead for long as first Tom Rogic and then Moussa Dembele equalised. The hosts failed to exploit Jozo Simunovic’s red card just before the hour mark before Edouard came off the bench to score the winner.
“It’s incredibly tough,” said Rangers manager Graeme Murty. “We were punished by not doing the basics very well.”
– ‘Immense performance’ –
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers were forced to hand a debut to goalkeeper Scott Bain due to a late injury picked up by Dorus de Vries, and the replacement played a big part in helping the champions seal a record fourth straight win at Ibrox.
“It feels great,” Rodgers said after the victory. “It was an immense performance considering we went behind very early in the game.”
“You can see the intensity in the stadium today. It was an incredible football match to be involved in.”
Bain’s first involvement was to pick the ball out of his net after a terrible error by Dedryck Boyata, who gifted possession to Windass. The Rangers winger strode forward before blasting his 17th goal of the season.
Rangers’ early joy lasted just eight minutes as Rogic replied in spectacular fashion, curling into the top corner from 25 yards.
Rangers quickly reestablished their lead thanks to more poor Celtic defending.
Declan John’s low cross evaded a host of bodies and fell for Candeias to fire home at the far post.
Again Celtic responded brightly and Wes Fotheringham was forced into brilliant saves to deny Dembele and Callum McGregor.
The visitor’s pressure paid off in first-half stoppage time when Dembele rounded off a frantic half by lobbing Fotheringham for his sixth goal in eight games against Rangers.
After a brief lull after the break, Rangers seemed to have been handed the upper hand once more when Simunovic was shown a straight red card for what the referee’s assistant deemed to be an elbow on Morelos.
However, despite their numerical advantage, Rangers were caught cold by a clinical Celtic counter-attack.
Edouard had only been on the field two minutes before he collected Dembele’s layoff and then cut inside to curl high into the far corner.
In contrast to their defending earlier in the game, Celtic’s 10 men largely soaked up Rangers’ pressure trouble free.
But they were enjoyed a huge let off two minutes from time when Bain saved Windass’s low effort and Morelos somehow turned the rebound onto the post with the goal gaping from point-blank range.