SEVCO RANGERS 0 CELTIC 2
CELTIC eased eight points clear of Pedro Caixinha’s side after second-half goals from Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths sealed a third successive win at Ibrox for Brendan Rodgers.
They may have faced new-look opponents with a host of players making their first appearance in this fixture, but it was the same old story.
The Hoops dominated – 11 corner-kicks as opposed to one for the home team – and generally looked comfortable.
Craig Gordon was called into action with the score at 1-0 and the internantional keeper responded with a fabulous reflex save to deny a close-in header from Alfredo Morelos in the in the 54th minute.
Rodgers’ Invincibles had taken the lead just four minutes earlier and it was Wizard of Oz Tom Rogic who provided the pulverising finish to break Sevco Rangers’ resistance.
Scotty Sinclair won a left-wing corner-kick after some touchline trickery. Griffiths swung it into the danger zone where the home defenders scrambled the ball to the edge of the box.
Paddy Roberts attempted a shot, but he didn’t connect properly and before the Ibrox rearguard could breathe a collective sigh of relief, Rogic snapped onto the ball.
The midfielder turned and lashed an unstoppable left-foot piledriver high past the helpless Wes Foderingham at his right-hand side.
The goal had been coming for awhile and it was all over bar the shouting in the 65th minute when Griffiths got his reward for an afternoon of toil and seat with the killer second.
Mikael Lustig won the ball in his own half and fed it to substitute Callum McGregor who touched a neat pass to Roberts.
The Englishman’s knock-on into the tracks of Griffiths was sublime and the finishing effort from the eager frontman was equally exquisite.
Griffiths slipped onto the pass before rifling a low right-foot shot past Foderingham at his near post.
There was no way back for the home side after that strike and it allowed Rodgers to bring on James Forrest and Moussa Dembele for Roberts and Griffiths to gain some game time before the Champions League confrontation with Anderlecht in Brussels on Wednesday evening.
Remarkably, the Hoops had three excellent chances to score in the opening 10 minutes, but passed up each of the opportunities.
The game had only gone 46 seconds when Stuart Armstrong set up Rogic as he surged towards the penalty area into a dangerous position.
The Aussie pulled the trigger 20 yards out, but Foderingham dealt with his left-foot effort as he touched the ball over the bar.
In the fifth minute, Ryan Jack was penalised for a crude foul on Roberts and the champions were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out well within Griffiths’ scope and expertise.
His effort looked netbound and had Foderingham scrambling across his line, but the ball swerved just wide of the keeper’s left-hand upright.
A few minutes later, Kieran Tierney sent over an inch-perfect left-wing cross that eliminated teenage debutant Ross McCrorie and dropped onto the head of the lurking Griffiths.
The Scotland international managed to head over from six yards with the goal gaping. He should have tested the rigging behind Foderingham.
In the 22nd minute, Griffiths latched onto a slack headed clearance from Lee Hodson, but his left-foot curler was pawed down by the Ibrox shotstopper.
Roberts carved out an opening for himself as he waltzed in from the right, flummoxed Hodson, but his close-range shot was blocked at the post by the overworked Foderingham.
Three minutes later, he was in action again as he got down to smother a 25-yard effort from Armstrong.
The midfielder was out of luck in the 37th minute after some great work from Dedryck Boyata and Rogic sent him clear on the left-hand side of the box, but he lost his footing at the crucial moment and the chance was gone.
Alfredo Morelos was the first booking of the afternoon just before half-time when he clattered into Boyata. There was no protest from the Colombian as match official Craig Thomson produced the yellow card.
Celtic were the dominant force after the interval and the result was never in doubt as soon as Rogic’s thunderous effort exploded into Foderingham’s net right in front of the celebrating Hoops support.
Boyata was yellow-carded after a tussle with Morelos and Daniel Candeias was similarly treated by the ref after a wild challenge on Tierney.
By then the game was well out of reach of the Govan outfit and the three points were heading to the home of the champions.
Only a nincompoop would argue about the outcome of this one.
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Armstrong; Roberts (sub: Forrest 69), Rogic (sub: McGregor 62), Sinclair; Griffiths (sub: Dembele 80).
The CQN Podcast: A Celtic State of Mind (EP13) The Quality Street Gang Part 1
A Celtic State of Mind offers an insight into the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.
Each episode includes interviews with ‘Celtic-minded’ figures from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature or politics.
This week, ‘A Celtic State of Mind’ pays tribute to The Quality Street Gang.
In the first of a two-part series, Paul John Dykes interviews Billy Murdoch, Bobby Wraith, HughMcKellar and Lou Macari to discuss one of the finest crops of youngsters ever to emerge from Celtic Park.
90,000 Celtic fans can’t be wrong…
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