Celtic rub salt into Rangers wounds

29 April 2012 03:17

Champions Celtic heaped further misery on crisis club and bitter rivals Rangers as they cruised to a 3-0 win in the final Old Firm derby of the season at Celtic Park.

With no end seemingly in sight to the deepening financial crisis at Rangers the game offered the Ibrox club's players the chance for a brief respite from their off-field worries.

However, their problems followed them on to the pitch with Celtic, who wrapped up the Scottish Premier League title at the beginning of April, completely dominating the game.

Charlie Mulgrew headed the Hoops into a 17th minute lead before Kris Commons got his first of the season in the 31st minute to double their advantage.

Gary Hooper compounded their misery when he fired home a third in the 54th minute with the Rangers players seemingly resigned to defeat.

The win leaves Celtic 21 points clear of Rangers, who were docked 10 points after entering administration in February, and gains some revenge for their 3-2 defeat at Ibrox in March.

With the threat of liquidation and the possible loss of their place in the Scottish Premier League hanging over Rangers there were more than bragging rights at stake in what potentially could be the last Old Firm game for a while.

The first chance fell to Rangers when Andy Little chested Carlos Bocanegra's long ball into the path of Lee McCulloch but the midfielder volleyed wildly over the bar.

At the other end the ball fell to Commons after the Rangers defence failed to clear an Emilio Izaguirre cross but the Scotland international miscued his shot.

Good work from youngster Rhys McCabe allowed Steven Whittaker to play in Little but the Northern Irishman's shot was easily held by Fraser Forster.

Celtic took a 17th minute lead through a well-worked set piece.

Commons swung a corner to the edge of the six-yard box where the unmarked Mulgrew sent a diving header crashing off the turf and into the roof of the net to send the home fans wild.

McCulloch couldn't direct a header from Sone Aluko's free-kick on target and Whittaker sent a half-volley over the bar as Rangers searched for an equaliser.

Their hopes were dealt a hammer blow in the 31st minute when Commons doubled Celtic's advantage.

Hooper picked him out in the middle and he beat Kyle Bartley to the ball and deftly dinked the ball over the advancing Allan McGregor to make it 2-0.

It was all one-way traffic with Mulgrew sending a header wide before Victor Wanyama's stinging shot drew a fine save from McGregor as the half drew to a close.

Things didn't improve for Rangers after the break with McGregor producing a fingertip save to deny Joe Ledley before the keeper smothered Wanyama's shot from the resultant corner on the line.

However, the Hoops weren't to be denied for long when Hooper made it 3-0 in the 54th minute. McCabe conceded possession in the Rangers half and Georgios Samaras released Hooper who hammered a rising shot past the helpless keeper.

Salim Kerkar replaced Little with 20 minutes remaining and the Algerian almost made an instant impact when he raced into the box but sent his chipped effort over the bar from a tight angle.

Aluko's curling free-kick forced Forster into a fine save late on as Rangers were to be denied a consolation goal.

Source: AFP