The pre-match spotlight was directed at the showdown between Celtic skipper Scott Brown and Rangers midfielder Joey Barton.
Brown came out on top as Celtic dished out a 5-1 drubbing in the first Old Firm dual at Parkhead for four years.
Brown later described it as “men against boys”. Here’s how he came out on top against Barton:
This head-to-head was tipped to be a powder-keg affair as soon as Barton claimed his opposite number would not stand a chance up against him. The Rangers midfielder looked to be caught up in the atmosphere as he almost caught Kieran Tierney early on but thankfully for the officials there was no flashpoint when the pair went up against each other for an old-fashioned drop ball contest 15 minutes after the restart.
The pair’s first coming together came after 15 minutes when Brown pressurised Barton into a mistake. Barton was done no favours soon after when Lee Wallace passed to him inside the Light Blues box but his pass-back to Wes Foderhingham had the keeper scrambling as the ball rolled dangerously close to the net. The former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR man had passed the ball crisply enough during the first half but rarely hurt the hosts. Brown also kept things tidy through-out and looked like he had barely broken sweat when he was replaced 15 minutes from time with the game already well won.
With both men starting in deep-lying holding roles, neither had much chance to influence the game in the final third of the pitch. Barton even finished the game at centre-back as his side lost both Rob Kiernan and Philippe Senderos. Brown was afforded a standing ovation from the home supporters but that was more to rub Barton’s nose in the devastating nature of Rangers’ defeat.
There was no question that Barton and his Rangers side were well off the pace at Parkhead and the Ibrox man appeared to concede that fact when he offered a handshake to the victorious Celtic captain at full-time.