Celtic managed to overcome Rangers in their latest derby clash. It was a close one with the side from Govan twice taking the lead but the Scottish Premiership champions didn’t give up and in the end they had too much for their opponents.
It’s how you react to set-backs that can define games, at times, and that was certainly the case at Ibrox today.
Twice Celtic managed to get back on level terms after the Gers took the lead. The Hoops then had to deal with going down to ten men (after Jozo Simunoivc saw a straight red) and they responded by flinging on another striker and it was super sub Odsonne Edouard that would grab the winner.
When Rangers found themselves behind, they didn’t show the same spirit as Celtic did. The home side seemed shell-shocked at how the Hoops had managed to take the lead. Too many misplaced passes, too many shocking crosses and not enough chances were presented to the forwards. That being said, Rangers could’ve and should’ve got at least a point but hitman Alfredo Morelos inexplicably missed a sitter at the end.
The game all but secures Celtic another league title. They are now nine points clear at the top and have a game in hand. They haven’t been invincible like they were last term but when it counted they went to Pittodrie and Ibrox and saw off their main challengers.
In Scott Brown. Celtic have a captain who sums up the team’s spirit. He does’t give things up and he steps up in the big games. Again today, he was terrific in protecting his defence. He also provided a great assist for Moussa Dembele’s goal. But really his biggest contribution was not panicking or getting overly involved in heated situations. Scott would’ve have seen that this Gers team have more about them than the previous ones he’s faced in recent times but he made sure he gave a composed performance and that was then mirrored throughout the team (well maybe not from Dedryck Boyata).
In Dembele, Kieran Tierney and Tom Rogic the Hoops also have big game players who have the ability to make a difference when the chips are down.
I should also note that Kristoffer Ajer had a fine game at the back, he gave a mature performance when elder central defenders in both sides struggled.
Another big plus for the away side was the strength of depth they had on the bench. Creative forces Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair weren’t needed. Young Jack Hendry came on to shore things up at the back and seemed to handle the occasion without much fuss. Scottish internationalist Stuart Armstrong made his welcomed return from injury and obviously Edouard came off the bench to score the vital winner.
When discussing the team’s spirit, character and the use of the subs then you have to credit boss Brendan Rodgers. He made the right changes at the right time and his side’s game management in the second half was almost perfect.
A challenge from Rangers may be on the horizon but Celtic, today, made sure that their rivals knew that the champions aren’t in any mood to hand over any crown and that they have the experience needed to see out any type of match.