A DOUBLE TRIUMPH over Philippe Clement’s Ibrox team in the space of a fortnight sealed a memorable comeback for Brendan Rodgers as Celtic manager.

A 2-1 league win in the east end of Glasgow set up the champions for their twelfth title in 13 years and just two weeks later Captain Marvel Callum McGregor led his all-conquering side to a 1-0 Scottish Cup Final success over their city foes to bring down the curtain on a momentous crusade.

It had been a rollercoaster ride right from the kick-off when Rodgers, back in the dug-out after an absence of four and a half years, saw the team overcome Ross County 4-2 to set the season in motion.

Celtic were on the silverware tightrope when they faced Hearts in the first game of the month at Parkhead on May 4.

AT THE DOUBLE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates the first of his two goals in the 3-0 win over Hearts.

Two early goals from Kyogo Furuhashi eased the hosts to a 3-0 victory over opponents who had beaten then in the previous two meetings.

The win gave Rodgers’ men a six-point advantage, but their nearest challengers beat 10-man Kilmarnock 4-1 in Govan 24 hours later to cut it back to three with only three league hurdles to go.

Matt O’Riley walloped in a late penalty-kick to make certain there was no sign of a banana skin.

A week later at the same venue, all that was missing was the Premiership title presentation.

A pulsating, pulverising occasion had it all as 60,000 fans were transfixed with what was occurring in front of their very eyes.

Two Celtic goals within THIRTY-FIVE SECONDS, a quickfire reply from the Ibrox side, a red card for a visitor, a missed penalty-kick from the Hoops shortly after the turnaround, two Hoops goals chalked off for offside and a nervy countdown to the final whistle after seven minutes of added-on time.

The champions made it extremely difficult for themselves as they struggled against 10 men to get this win over the line.

A tense encounter exploded to life in 12 breathtaking minutes in which the champions scored two goals, their opponents pulled one back and John Lundstram was red-carded for an out-of-control lunge on Alistair Johnston.

HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Matt O’Riley yells in joy after another memorable strike.

It was the masterful O’Riley who fired in the crucial breakthrough strike in the 35th minute to send a sell-out crowd into raptures.

It was a goal that was crafted with just about every Celtic player involved in the build-up before the impressive James Forrest picked out Callum McGregor scampering into space in the box.

The captain spied O’Riley moving into the danger zone and sent the ball in his direction. The Danish international playmaker took a touch, steadied himself and then whipped a low drive between the stretching Jack Butland and his left-hand post for a memorable breakthrough counter.

The game was briefly held up with a flare on the pitch and, amazingly, Rodgers’ men had the ball in the net exactly 35 seconds after the restart.

Johnston cleared up a long ball before Cameron Carter-Vickers zipped an unerring diagonal pass into the tracks of Daizen Maeda on the left.

OH GEE…Jack Butland is left helpless as John Lundstram diverts a Daizen Maeda cross into the net.

The Japanese wide Bhoy left James Tavernier in his slipstream before sending a low cross into the box from the left.

Lundstram tried to intercept the ball, but only contrived in diverting it past his own keeper as Parkhead exploded in joy yet again.

However, silence descended on the ground in the 40th minute when the unmarked Cyriel Dessers headed past the exposed Joe Hart from close range.

Two minutes into first-half stoppage-time, Lundstram’s woeful afternoon didn’t get much better after he launched himself into a wayward challenge on Johnston.

The midfielder got none of the ball and a lot of the Canadian’s ankle and the right-back crashed to the turf. Referee Willie Collum was quick to show a yellow card, but was instructed by his VAR colleague Steven McLean to review the incident on his touchline monitor.

There was no surprise when the official returned to the pitch to flash the red card and banish the errant Englishman.

Six minutes after the break, O’Riley was sent tumbling after Mohamad Diamonde clipped his heels. Collum immediately pointed to the spot, but was invited to have a second look by VAR.

After a delay of three minutes, the match official refused to change his mind and the penalty was given. O’Riley stepped forward to take the kick, but his almost nonchalant attempt was pushed away by Butland to his left and the chance was gone.

JUST CHAMPION…Adam Idah snaps up the first goal in the 5-0 title romp against Kilmarnock.

At the final whistle, the champions knew just one point was required to make absolutely certain as they prepared for the midweek visit to Rugby Park, a venue where they had lost twice in the campaign.

There was no mistake this time around. Rodgers’ men were three goals ahead in 35 minutes on their way to a 5-0 success.

Idah claimed the first in fifth minute, Maeda added a quickxfire second and James Forrest stabbed in the first with 10 minutes of the opening period still to play.

Player of the Year O’Riley took centre stage after the turnaround to score two excellent goals to seal the club’s 54th crown in their glorious history.

ROARING SUCCESS…Joe Hart enjoys his last hurrah at Rugby Park.

POSTER BHOYS…Celtic celebrate their third successive title after their 5-0 romp over Kilmarnock.

Luis Palma put the finishing touches to a 3-2 win over St Mirren at Parkhead to bring the curtain down on yet another successful Premiership campaign. It was Celtic third crown in succession, their twelfth in 13 years, their 18th this century and their 54th in their glorious history.

O’Riley and Kyogo claimed their nineteenth strikes of the crusade and the game was stalemated at 2-2 when the Honduran winger popped up at the back post to turn the ball over the line for the clincher.

At the same time, Rangers were drawing 3-3 with Hearts at Tynecastle to ensure Celtic lifted the championship with an eight-point advantage.

It was an emotion-charged afternoon as Joe Hart had his last hurrah at Parkhead – and then the focus moved to the south side of the city and a Scottish Cup Final against the Govan club on the iconic date of May 25, the 57th anniversary of Celtic’s greatest-ever triumph when Jock Stein’s All-Stars beat Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon to conquer Europe.

HAMPDEN HERO…Adam Idah pounces to score the Scottish Cup Final winner with Jack Butland helpless.

THE CUP THAT CHEERS…Brendan Rodgers is all smiles as he holds aloft the Scottish Cup.

At Hampden, it was all down to the opportunism of second-half substitute Adam Idah as the double was claimed.

The Republic of Ireland international didn’t allow his focus to waver as the showpiece showdown edged towards extra-time with the spectacle goalless and a minute of regulation time to go.

Paulo Bernardo got the move in motion as he sidestepped a lung from Nico Raskin in the centre circle and drove towards Jack Butland’s goal.

The Portuguese playmaker, playing in his last loan game from Benfica, thumped in a 25-yarder which totally flummoxed the Ibrox keeper.

Butland, his team’s star performer all season, pushed away the swerving effort and that was all Idah required to sweep in and first-time the rebound into the inviting net.

In an instant, a wonderful league and Cup double had been achieved.

Welcome back, Brendan! Well done, Callum and the Bhoys!

Roll on the new season!


May 4: PremiershipCELTIC 3 Hearts 0

Kyogo (2), O’Riley (pen)

May 11: PremiershipCELTIC 2 Rangers 1

O’Riley, Lundstram (og)

May 15: Premiership: Kilmarnock 0 CELTIC 5

Idah, Maeda, Forrest, O’Riley (2)

May 18: PremiershipCELTIC 3 St Mirren 2

O’Riley, Kyogo, Palma

May 25: Scottish Cup FinalCELTIC 1 Rangers 0


* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the first thrilling instalment of ‘BRENDAN RODGERS: The story so far’ – only in your champion CQN.

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