RODGERS v RANGERS: Part Nine

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BRENDAN RODGERS is planning to celebrate his fourth win of the season over Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden tomorrow afternoon.

The Celtic boss is unbeaten after the Premiership programme with three victories and a draw as he guided the Hoops to their third successive title with an eight-point advantage over their Ibrox rivals.

That success brought Rodgers his eighth piece of silverware over his two stints in charge at Parkhead and the Irishman in now focused on adding another.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, we have been charting Rodgers’ history against the Govan club.

Today, we look back at the 2-1 triumph at Parkhead that propelled Celtic to within a point of their twelfth crown in 13 years.

Please enjoy!

A ROUND OF APPLAUSE…Brendan Rodgers celebrates with the Celtic support.

May 11, 2024: Premiership:

CELTIC 2 Rangers 1

ALL THAT was missing was the Premiership title presentation.

This pulsating, pulverising occasion at Parkhead 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, two Celtic goals chalked off for offside and a nervy countdown to the final whistle after seven minutes of stoppage-time.

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.

When the smoke of battle cleared, the hosts were 2-1 ahead at the interval and halfway to getting the job done.

It was the masterful Matt O’Riley who fired in the crucial breakthrough strike in the 35th minute to sends 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.

HAPPY DAZE…Matt O’Riley celebrates the opening goal to set Celtic on the way to a vital derby triumph.

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, Brendan 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.

The Japanese speedster 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 team’s vulnerability at dealing with back post crosses was exposed once more when Cyriel Dessers was allowed to head home from four yards.

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.

ON A WING AND A SLAYER…Daizen Maeda races towards the crowd after John Lundstram deflects his low cross into his own net for Celtic’s second goal.

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 Diamande 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.

On the hour mark, Maeda latched onto a deflected Forrest shot to slide the ball under the Ibrox netminder, but the cheers of the fans were strangled when the effort was chalked off for offside.

Near the end, the jet-propelled winger had the ball in the net again after great service from substitute Nicolas Kuhn, but the speedster had strayed just offside.

The 54th crown in the club’s proud history was rubber-stamped four days later with a 5-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

That’s what we call class!

TEAM: Hart; Johnston (sub: Ralston 74), Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor, Hatate (sub: Iwata 80); Forrest (sub: Kuhn 71), Kyogo (sub: Idah 71), Maeda.

*DON’T miss Rodgers v Rangers: Part Ten – only in your champion CQN.

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