Saturday 18 November 2017

No slip-ups for Brendan's Bhoys at Ibrox

Rangers 1 Celtic 2

Celtic’s Scott Sinclair gets a shot away at Ibrox. Photo: Getty Images
Celtic’s Scott Sinclair gets a shot away at Ibrox. Photo: Getty Images

Andy Newport

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers may have almost taken a tumble at Ibrox but he hailed his side for refusing to slip up against Rangers.

The Parkhead boss was left red-faced after he almost lost his footing celebrating Scott Sinclair's second-half winner.

But he could barely contain his pride after watching his team fight back from Kenny Miller's early opener to claim their 15th straight Scottish Premiership win.

Rodgers, who limped down the tunnel after applauding his side's 2-1 triumph, said: "It was stupid, wasn't it? I just slipped when the second goal went in.

"I was trying to set off on a wee sprint but I slipped and pulled my calf. It was daft. I couldn't walk, but I'm OK.

"We talked before the game about what would happen if we fell behind, about dealing with pressure and finding solutions. But the most pleasing thing is we stayed very calm and once we got the goal we played our way back into the game again."

Celtic's Moussa Dembele goes past Rangers James Taverier. Photo: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire
Celtic's Moussa Dembele goes past Rangers James Taverier. Photo: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire

Miller put the hosts ahead after Josh Windass and James Tavernier combined to cut Celtic apart 13 minutes in.

It was a position the Hoops have rarely found themselves in this term but they regrouped and levelled after 32 minutes in stunning fashion when Moussa Demeble grabbed his 19th goal of the campaign - and his fifth against Mark Warburton's side - with an emphatic finish from a Sinclair corner.

Sinclair then slotted home with 20 minutes remaining to send the undefeated Premiership leaders a massive 19 points clear with a game in hand.

"I thought it was a brilliant result for us, a real great advert for Scottish football," said Rodgers after the thrilling Old Firm clash. "We thoroughly deserved the win. First half we didn't start so well, we didn't pass the ball well enough but we were always a threat on the counter.

Celtic's Scott Brown and Patrick Roberts celebrate after defeating Rangers 2-1. Photo: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire
Celtic's Scott Brown and Patrick Roberts celebrate after defeating Rangers 2-1. Photo: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire

"We needed to adjust one or two things at half-time but second half we were brilliant. We were a threat every time we went forward. We're disappointed only to have had two goals."

And Rodgers picked out his match-winner for praise after a special display from the rejuvenated former Swansea, Manchester City and Aston Villa attacker.

"I thought Scott was incredible," he beamed. "For any supporter to watch a player play to that level in such a high-profile game was great."

Celtic's win ends the Light Blues' 15-month unbeaten run at home and Rangers boss Mark Warburton admitted his team's failure to perform consistently across the 90 minutes left them exposed.

"I'm disappointed obviously, as we've lost a game of football," said the Englishman, who had to do without injured skipper Lee Wallace. "We've also lost our record at home which is more than disappointing.

"In the first half-hour I thought we were good. We came out of the blocks, we were on the front foot and got the early goal, which is always pleasing. It was a soft goal for us to give away undoubtedly but we finished the half strongly in terms of good possession. So we were happy at half-time.

"But in the first 15 minutes of the second half I thought we were poor. Celtic had chances and were dominating possession. They were very good and we were poor in keeping the ball."

Yet the hosts could have snatched a point late on, with Miller presented with another golden chance after being picked out at the back post by Andy Halliday. But the 37-year-old fluffed his finish and watched in horror as the ball came back off the post.

"We had chances," conceded Warburton. "But you've got to take them. So we have to learn from this. The boys have got a well-deserved break now to recharge the batteries and we need to come back for a very strong second half of the season."

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