BRENDAN RODGERS celebrated his return to the rarified atmosphere of a Glasgow derby this season after an absence of over four and a half years.
The second time-around Celtic boss was all smiles as he watched Kyogo Furuhashi volley in the only goal of the encounter at Ibrox in early September to seal his comeback.
Rodgers enjoyed phenomenal success against the city rivals in his first spell between May 2016 and February 2019.
The Irishman faced the Govan club on 13 occasions and triumphed 10 times while drawing two and losing only one.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we are analysing the gaffer’s previous encounters with the city rivals.
The 50-year-old manager got off to a dream start with a 5-1 debut hammering on Mark Warburton’s team in September 2016 and remained unbeaten while winning six of the next eight outings as we highlighted yesterday and earlier today.
In Part Four, CQN puts the spotlight on two more fixtures during Rodgers’ second season in the Hoops dug-out.
DERBY DELIGHT…Odsonne Edouard celebrates his matchwinner at Ibrox in March 2018.
March 11, 2018: Premiership:
Rangers 2 (Windass, Candeias), CELTIC 3 (Rogic, Dembele, Edouard)
CELTIC killed off the title challenge of their city neighbours with an exhilarating and determined 3-2 victory which marked their fourth successive win at Ibrox.
It was the first time the feat had been achieved since 1909 – and Brendan Rodgers’ battlers managed it with only 10 men for 34 minutes following Jozo Simunovic’s red card after an aerial challenge with Alfredo Morelos.
The triumph stretched the champions’ advantage to nine points and the hosts realised any faint hopes they had of overcoming their Parkhead adversaries were blown against superior opponents.
Remarkably, stand-in boss Graeme Murty saw his team go ahead inside three minutes after Josh Windass capitalised on some slack play by Dedryck Boyata to race in unchallenged on keeper Scott Bain, on loan from Dundee, and thump in an unstoppable drive.
WIZARD OF OZ…Tom Rogic lets fly as he makes it 1-1 at Ibrox. Defender David Bates is too late to intervine.
However, Celtic rallied and Tom Rogic levelled five minutes later. The Australian playmaker picked up the ball up in a central area, brushed off a challenge from Sean Goss and then curled a stupendous 30-yarder high into the net beyond the stretching Wes Foderingham.
Some slack defensive play in the 26th minute allowed Daniel Candeias to strike a second for Murty’s side, the first time the team had scored more than one goal against the visitors since Rodgers’ arrival in May 2016.
Back came the title kings and, just on the stroke of half-time, Scott Brown released Moussa Dembele to break into space, the Frenchman held off Fabio Cordoso and delicately lifted the ball over the head of the stranded keeper who had strayed into no-man’s land.
WALKING ON AIR…Scott Brown celebrates three more points on Celtic’s way to a seventh successive title.
Following Simunovic’s banishment from referee Willie Collum, the Hoops boss replaced Rogic with defender Jack Hendry. Rodgers rejigged the line-up again when he sent on Odsonne Edouard for James Forrest in the 67th minute.
Only moments later, the French ace picked up a pass from compatriot Dembele on the left, ambled in from the wing and cunningly arced an effort wide of the grasping Foderingham for what turned out to be the matchwinner in a memorable derby confrontation.
TEAM: Bain; Boyata, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (sub: Edouard), Rogic (sub: Hendry), McGregor; Dembele (sub: Armstrong).
MIGHTY MOUSSA…Celtic’s powerhouse hitman Dembele accepts fans’ applause after netting No.3 at Hampden.
April 15: Scottish Cup semi-final:
CELTIC 4 (Rogic, McGregor, Dembele pen, Ntcham pen), Rangers 0
RUTHLESS Celtic demolished their city rivals to reach the Scottish Cup Final where they would overcome Motherwell 2-0 on their way to historic back-to-back trebles.
The scene at Hampden was set for a goal deluge in the early moments when Moussa Dembele fired an effort against the upright before most players on the pitch had a touch of the ball.
Amaingly, it took until the 22nd minute before Tom Rogic scored in his third successive derby when he swivelled to find an unguarded spot behind Wes Foderingham and, 16 minutes later, Callum McGregor doubled the advantage with another neat finish before the interval.
JOY BHOY…Callum McGregor races away in triumph after scoring the Hoops’ second in their Scottish Cup romp.
Graeme Murty’s men had no answer as their opponents swarmed all over them and their x-certificate afternoon got worse six minutes after the break when a panicking Ross McCrorie was dismissed by referee Bobby Madden after the Ibrox centre-back hauled the rampaging Dembele to the ground.
The Frenchman took the resultant spot-kick and dinked a cheeky effort down the middle as Foderingham took off for a corner.
The match official had no alternative but to award another penalty in the 78th minute after Jason Holt floored Patrick Roberts with the on-loan Hoops winger in full flight.
On this occasion, Olivier Ntcham accepted spot-kick responsibilities and he slid No.4 into the net.
Celtic bossed the occasion and skipper Scott Brown was immense with a flawless display as he combined with Rogic and Ntcham to take a stranglehold in the middle of the park.
Any chance caretaker boss Murty had of getting the post on a permanent basis was obliterated after this command performance by Rodgers’ team.
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (sub: Roberts), Rogic (sub: Sinclair), McGregor; Dembele (sub: Griffiths).
*TOMORROW: Don’t miss Rodgers v Rangers (Parts Five and Six) – only in your champion CQN.