Rangers break golden Old Firm rules as a king is coronated at Celtic Park - opinion

The home side prevailed 2-1 in what was a championship decider at Parkhead

Don’t lose the first goal, don’t fly into unnecessary challenges. Rangers broke these golden rules and suffered the consequences. The title flag will remain at Parkhead.

Celtic can confirm that Brendan Rodgers has done what he said he would do back in June when they meet Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Wednesday night, although there's always the chance Rangers might slip up against Dundee at Ibrox 24 hours earlier. This felt like a coronation in any case. Rodgers’ smile shone like the Northern Lights the previous night. He is the title king.

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He joined his players on a lap of honour. It is something they do as routine here but this circuit of the pitch was shot through with extra emotion. Goalkeeper Joe Hart had both arms in the air. It felt like a long time since Santa was being booed.

It's all thumbs-up for Brendan Rodgers as Celtic overcame Rangers.It's all thumbs-up for Brendan Rodgers as Celtic overcame Rangers.
It's all thumbs-up for Brendan Rodgers as Celtic overcame Rangers.

While they weren’t gifted this win, it was made a lot easier for Celtic when John Lundstram was sent off just before half time shortly after the midfielder had scored an own goal. This was a catastrophic spell for the Liverpudlian.

The Ibrox side had gone behind in ten of the previous 11 meetings with Celtic and did so again here when Matt O’Riley lashed home after 35 minutes. Lundstram’s own goal three minutes later meant it seemed certain there would be no comeback this time around from Rangers.

The unfortunate deflection past his own goalkeeper was not Lundstram's most significant impact on the proceedings – impact being the operative word. Lundstram crashed into Alistair Johnston on the stroke of half time while making an entirely unnecessary challenge and was red carded. There was a brief stay of execution because he was initially only booked by referee Willie Collum. But it was a red all day long. VAR intervened. Off he went.

It was especially dismaying for Rangers because they had only just got back into the game though Cyriel Dessers’ header on 39 minutes. At 2-1 with another half left, who knows what might have happened? Still, it’s being incredibly generous to Rangers to think they might have found a way back into the game and into the championship race even with eleven men. Although they recovered well in the first half after Celtic threatened to blow them away, they still looked lacking when it came to really forcing the issue.

Of course, it’s an Old Firm game. Anything might still have happened. O’Riley saw his penalty, after he was clipped by Mohamed Diomande, saved by Butland, who was superb throughout. Celtic Park grew edgier towards the end as the score remained 2-1 and Rangers threw caution to the wind. A desperate Butland made a second foray into the opposition box in recent weeks, having also come up for a corner against Ross County last month, when Rangers’ title hopes started unravelling. That process was completed here. It’s all over.



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