JUST CHAMPION! Celtic showed the true grit of title winners to claim a precious victory at Ibrox in the dramatic High Noon shoot-out.

Kyogo Furuhashi was the man who claimed the glory goal just before the break, but this was an overall performance from a collection of players who did not give the opposition an inch and were in Govan to do a job.

They did that and tonight the Parkhead side are four points ahead of their noisy neighbours.

Fans’ favourite Kyogo fired in the points clincher, but there were massive showings from two Celts in skipper Callum McGregor and goalkeeper Joe Hart.

SIGN OF A WINNER…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates another precious strike for the champions.

The captain put in an immaculate display as he took command of the middle of the park while the veteran keeper proved to be unbeatable.

Brendan Rodgers won four of his previous five games in this arena and he has got off to his second stint as gaffer with another impressive triumph.

There were tired limbs among the visitors at the final whistle following seven minutes of stoppage time, but to a man they acknowledged it had all be worthwhile.

It was third time lucky for Kyogo when he whipped in the breakthrough goal two minutes into first-half stoppage-time.

The normally sureshot striker, who had passed up two earlier opportunities, demonstrated his true quality to claim the opener.

The home backline tried to play Kyogo offside when Matt O’Riley picked up a wayward clearance from Connor Goldson straight from a downfield punt by Hart.

The stylish playmaker sent a powerful header into the danger zone. The Japanese speedster, clearly played onside by John Souttar, raced after the ball and unleashed an unstoppable right-foot drive from just outside the box.

Keeper Jack Butland didn’t stand a chance as the effort hurtled past his outstretched right hand to nestle low in the corner of the net.

The stadium was struck dumb in that instant as the Hoops players celebrated in silence.

Kyogo had missed a couple of earlier chances amid the usual hurly burly of a frantic Glasgow derby.

THE WINNER…Kyogo Furuhashi races between John Souttar and Connor Goldson as he wallops in the only goal of the game at Ibrox.

In the 16th minute, McGregor, playing a real captain’s part, sent Liel Abada clear on the right with a probing long pass.

The Israeli winger left opponent Dujan Sterling in his slipstream as he sprinted towards the box before sizzling over an inviting cross.

Kyogo attempted to flick the ball between his legs at the near post, but got his timing wrong and the Ibrox defence breathed a sigh of relief.

And the team’s attack-leader also failed to punish hesitant opponents in the 25th minute when O’Riley’s precision pass sent him clear on the right side of the box.

Kyogo veered straight for goal and it looked a certainty until his low shot was blocked by a scrambling Goldson after it had eluded Butland.

There was drama in the 28th minute when VAR was forced to intervene to rule out a ‘goal’ from Michael Beale’s side.

Gustaf Lagerbielke was tripped and then knocked over by Cyriel Dessers, but the move was allowed to continue and the ball was driven over from the left with the visitors’ defence in disarray.

Kemar Roofe took a touch before hammering a drive beyond the exposed Hart and it looked as though referee Don Robertson was going to allow the strike.

However, he was instructed to review the goal by his VAR assistants and, after having another look at the incident, he silenced the stadium when he, quite rightly, awarded the Hoops a free-kick for a foul on the Swede. The new Bhoy looked nervy throughout, but will be a better player for this afternoon’s experience.

SMILES BETTER…Kyogo Furuhashi is congratulated by Liel Abada after his sensational strike.

He was also helped out by a tireless Liam Scales who was another Celt who did not spare the effort throughout a long and arduous confrontation. The Irishman looked out on his feet at the end, but he had done his job which was acknowledged by Rodgers who gave him a cuddle as he came off the field.

The home side also had the ball behind Hart in only 36 sconds, but Dessers was clearly offside in the build-up before Rabbi Matondo thought he had got his team off to a flyer.

In the 66th minute, Rodgers sent on Anthony Ralston, Yang Hyun-jun and Odin Holm for Johnston, Abada and Turnbull to freshen up his team.

Eight minutes later, Alexandro Bernabei came on for Taylor and he was swiftly followed by Oh Hyoen-gyu for Kyogo.

In the 76th minute, after some slack play from the Argentinian left-back who was slow to pick up the pace of the hectic encounter, Sam Lammers had a good chance for the home side, but Hart launched himself at the Ibrox player and forced him to take an early shot which hit the sidenet.

Nine minutes later, the experienced former England international No.1 produced two quickfire saves to deny the desperate hosts.

LOOKING UP…Kyogo Furuhashi looks skywards after his winner.

Substitute Danilo was allowed to cut inside onto his left foot before unleashing a drive, but the Hoops star read the situation perfectly and blocked the attempt.

Moments later, the Brazilian had another effort from close range as he stabbed at a right-wing cross, but again Hart was equal to the task and prodded out a timely left foot to divert the ball to safety.

The Hoops had their chances to add to their scoreline in the second-half with one of the best opportunities coming five minutes after the turnaround.

Abada, lively right up until he was replaced, raced clear at an angle into the box before sending in a low whiplash effort.

Butland stretched to his right to get the merest of touches to the ball to take it off the toe of Maeda, another non-stop performer, and the opportunity was gone.

Celtic weren’t even awarded a corner-kick.

At the end of a pulverising afternoon, no-one was complaining.

TEAM: Hart; Johnston (sub: Ralston 66), Lagerbielke, Scales, Taylor (sub: Bernabei 74); Turnbull (sub: Holm 66), McGregor, O’Riley; Abada (sub: Yang 66), Kyogo (sub: Oh 76), Maeda.

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