CELTIC 2 SEVCO RANGERS 0
THE treble is on! Only Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup Final on May 27 stand between Celtic and a wonderful domestic clean sweep.
Brendan Rodgers’ men are now unbeaten during a monumental 41-game domestic sequence after overcoming Sevco Rangers at Hampden this afternoon.
It really was a case of Bhoys v Boys with the champions on top right from the off in an often-embarrassingly one-sided confrontation.
Callum McGregor stroked in the opener in the 11th minute and Scott Sinclair thumped in a penalty-kick four minutes after the turnaround to make absolutely certain their would no route back for the Ibrox side.
Celtic started in whirlwind fashion and it was no surprise when they deservedly took an early lead.
Mikel Lustig picked out Moussa Dembele with a long ball from deep inside his own half.
The striker’s control was impeccable as he brought the pass under control and knocked it back into the path of McGregor.
The midfielder didn’t break stride as he calmly sidefooted the ball from outside the box and his composed finish bewildered keeper Wes Foderingham as it went in at his right-hand post.
Rodgers and his men had to wait until the 49th minute for the second goal and there was no way referee Willie Collum could deny them a penalty-kick when James Tavernier clumsily brought down substitute Leigh Griffiths.
Dederyck Boyata started the move when he won the ball on the edge of the Hoops penalty area and passed out to Patrick Roberts.
He placed a sublime ball in front of the hurtling Griffiths as he raced into the box and the Ibrox defender brought him crashing to the turf.
Sinclair, who missed from the spot recently in the 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle, made no mistake on this occasion with an effort to the keeper’s right.
Foderingham got a hand to the ball, but only succeeded in pushing it against the inside of the post and the effort rebounded into the net.
Celtic overwhelmingly dominated the first-half with the Ibrox side mere bit-part players as the ball was stroked around by the confident Hoops performers.
Frustratingly, though, they only had McGregor’s single goal to show for all their efforts in the first period.
The champions underlined their intent in the third minute when McGregor latched onto the ball, cut inside and zipped in a low shot that was saved by Foderingham, who passed a late fitness test to face the green-and-white firing squad.
Roberts was chopped to the ground by Andy Halliday in the build-up and ref Collum had little option but to book the Ibrox player.
In the ninth minute, Stuart Armstrong came within a whisker of opening the scoring.
Once again, there was patient leading-up play from Kieran Tierney and McGregor on the left before the impressive midfielder was teed up with the opportunity 25 yards out.
Armstrong stroked a curling effort goalwards that had Foderingham scrambling across his line, but, unfortunately, the ball swept just wide of the keeper’s left-hand upright.
Celtic were looking to add to McGregor’s clever effort and in the 25th minute Roberts picked out Dembele, but his neat backheel was intercepted by Ibrox defender David Bates who booted the ball away for a corner-kick.
Two minutes later, however, the 32-goal French hitman was forced to limp off following a hamstring pull after chasing a ball to the goal-line.
Remarkably, it took SIX minutes before substitute Griffiths was allowed to come on.
Myles Beerman became the second Ibrox player to go into the referee’s book after a lunge on Roberts, who looked as though he had been singled out for some rough treatment by his opponents.
The teenage Ibrox left-back clattered the winger again only moments later, but the match official was content to just award a free-kick on this occasion.
In the 38th minute, Foderingham was in action again as he sprawled to his left to punch away a dangerous Griffiths free-kick that was heading for the net.
Only moments later, the Ibrox side escaped again when Roberts miscued an attempt from 20 yards.
Celtic’s possession play was a joy to witness and Sevco Rangers’ only shot on goal – if you could call it that – was a long-range attempt from Kenny Miller that sailed over the crossbar.
It was much the same pattern in the second-half, although Gordon had to make a smart save to his right from a Miller header and, later on, blocked a low shot from the veteran striker with his foot.
Foderingham also made a handful of good saves, one, in particular, to thwart Griffiths.
Gordon launched a massive free-kick downfield that was magnificently controlled by the lively frontman on the edge of the box.
He walloped in a quick shot at goal, but the Ibrox No.1 touched the ball over the crossbar.
A few minutes later, Foderingham dived swiftly to his left to parry a low effort from the ever-dangerous Roberts.
Rodgers freshened up things in the 75th minute when he replaced McGregor with Tom Rogic and then introduced James Forrest for Roberts with eight minutes to go.
Simunovic and Rogic were also booked by the ref, but there was no denying Celtic this victory.
The Aussie playmaker almost had the final say with a left-foot drive from 25 yards that beat Foderingham low down to his right.
Alas, the ball struck the outside of the upright and rebounded harmlessly past.
Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic Invincibles are now 90 minutes away from becoming the fourth team in Hoops history to claim a treble.
Bring on the Sheep!
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Armstrong; Roberts (sub: Forrest 82), McGregor (sub: Rogic 75), Sinclair; Dembele (sub: Griffiths 33).