Nothing that occurred off the pitch will smart as badly as the result on it but Mikael Lustig poured salt into Rangers’ wounds last night.
Asked how he felt upon hearing Rangers players had reacted with cheers after being drawn with Celtic last month, the Swede delivered a stinging put down. “I didn’t really react,” he said.
“But they probably knew they were going to get some extra days off and get an extra holiday, that’s probably why they were cheering.”
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Sadly for Rangers, they must endure such taunts from across the city after their rivals underlined their superiority yesterday.
Lustig considered whether the 4-0 win was the finest he had experienced against the Ibrox side since joining Celtic six years ago.
“There’s been plenty of them, to be fair,” he said. “Like I said before the game, though, we like to play here [at Hampden]. Rangers couldn’t find a way to do something against us.”
The question whether Rangers might suffer long-term effects from being on the receiving end so often at the hands of Celtic was being considered afterwards.
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Some Celtic players would not be drawn on this, but Lustig seemed in no doubt Graeme Murty’s side would be affected by another one-sided reversal, with another meeting to come in less than a fortnight’s time at Celtic Park.
“Yes, I think it must be damaging,” he said. “From the start we showed we wanted to play football. Moussa [Dembele] had one off the post in the first couple of minutes.
“They didn’t press us, they didn’t make it hard for us. It maybe sounds a bit cheeky, but it felt quite easy.”
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Lustig turned his thoughts to other matters and the possibility Celtic might wrap up the title at Easter Road on Saturday against Neil Lennon’s Hibernian side.
Celtic require a win to confirm their seventh successive title at the home of a side led by their hugely popular former manager and skipper.
“He [Lennon] means a lot to me and he brought me to this club,” said Lustig. “He has been a wonderful manager for me and everyone knows the things he did for Celtic.
“I think he is emotionally attached to Hibs now and he will want to win the game.”
Lustig remarked that it was “probably” fair to say Hibs have been Celtic’s most difficult domestic opponent this season having been held twice in three meetings. “He [Lennon] has had a really good season. We have struggled against them in a couple of matches and it will be another difficult game. Neil is a wonderful manager. They give everything and are hard to beat.”
Olivier Ntcham, meanwhile, explained why he and not Moussa Dembele, who scored with a nonchalantly converted first penalty, had taken Celtic’s second award 20 minutes later. “I was the second taker so I always going to hit that penalty,” he said, adding that manager Brendan Rodgers prefers to switch takers if penalties are awarded in quick succession. “I wasn’t tempted to chip it like Moussa, though – no way!”
Ntcham praised Rodgers for improving him as a player. “He is a great manager. He has improved me a lot as a player, with and without the ball.”
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