Brendan Rodgers’ teams simply outclassed Rangers in every department during their biggest win at Ibrox against Rangers since 1897. They were faster and fitter, stronger and sharper. They passed the ball better, they had more skill, they showed more urgency, effort and football ability.
Celtic led 2-0 at half-time through a Scott Sinclair penalty and Leigh Griffiths rip-snorter, but it could have been much more.
Callum Mcgregor added a third with a little under ten minutes of the second half played before Dedryck Boyata headed home the fourth.
Kenny Miller appeared to net a consolation but Mikael Lustig confirmed the thumping with a fine solo goal.
The first half started at a ferocious pace. A pace which rarely relented throughout the opening period.
Rangers began the afternoon with a mobile and powerful midfield and attack, yet they should have fell behind with barely two minutes on the clock.
Fresh from his goal the previous week at Hampden Park, McGregor found himself free on the left hand side of the area and opted to go for successive goals in the Old Firm derby. With Leigh Griffiths better placed for a square pass McGregor’s shot was blocked fantastically by Clint Hill.
There were half-hearted appeals for a handball but the ball rebounded off Hill’s leg onto his hand. Griffiths showered McGregor with what was no doubt a number of expletives.
Celtic only had to wait three minutes for the opportunity to take the lead.
Myles Beerman chased Patrick Roberts and the ball as it headed out of the Rangers box towards the corner flag. The Maltese youngster foolishly lunged in to try and win the ball, swiping Roberts just inside the area as he was heading away from goal.
Like Sunday, Sinclair thumped the penalty past Wes Foderingham.
Rangers were all over the place mentally, tactically and structurally. Pedro Caixinha willed his players into challenges and to close down their opponents but they couldn’t get near the league champions and deservedly fell further behind.
Stuart Armstrong bullied Emerson Hyndman in the midfield battle before feeding Griffiths in the left channel with James Tavernier appearing to have no inclination of danger. The striker had only one thing in his mind: shoot. He did so and hit a thunderbolt past Foderingham.
Question marks were raised about the goalkeeping considering the shot was relatively central and did get a palm to the ball, but the ball was travelling at pace.
Rangers’ afternoon until that point was summed up in the 24th minute when Tavernier sent a corner out for a throw-in.
The match had been simmering and reached boiling point when Jozo Simunovic won a hard but fair challenge which sent Kenny Miller flying in the air. It allowed Celtic to spring forward with Sinclair who fed McGregor. Spinning on the edge of the box he set up Griffiths to curl a shot off the bar with Sinclair unable to get the rebound on target.
Sinclair will look back on his afternoon at Ibrox as the time he should have had a first half hat-trick. Just shy of the 30 minute mark a wonderful Griffiths cross found the Englishman free at the back post but he somehow managed to miss the target completely.
The pace finally relented, but Celtic were in cruise control, enjoying 63 per cent of possession with Rangers failing to find the target at all. The closest the home side went was when Miller flashed a speculative effort just past the post in stoppage time.
A pattern of Caixinha’s management so far has been half-time changes and he again looked towards his bench brining Andy Halliday on for the ineffectual Joe Dodoo. It had little baring.
Celtic went close twice before extending their lead. McGregor did get his second Old Firm goal within a week.
Once again Celtic swarmed forward like a green and white bees but the attack seemed to have stopped when McGregor’s pass was intercepted.
Yet, the ball found its way into the Celtic midfielder’s pass. Facing up Tavernier, McGregor shimmied and shaped before sliding the ball through the right-back’s legs and past the despairing dive of Foderingham.
Rangers had little hope, little to cling to other than what remained of their pride. But the experience was about to get a little more chastening.
In the 66th minute Griffiths sent in a tantalising cross from a free-kick out on the right. It travelled into the perfect area between defence and goalkeeper. Boyata took advantage of the uncertainty and powered a header into the net in front of the jubilant away support.
Rangers were finally presented with their first meaningful chance. In the 73rd minute. An excellent turn by Josh Windass past Scott Brown presented him with a shooting opportunity. His shot was blocked but spun towards Martyn Waghorn who could only steer his header past Craig Gordon’s post.
Miller, who else, did appear to salvage some pride for the home side when he combined with Windass before sliding under Gordon.
But their misery would be compounded when Lustig waltzed through the Rangers midfield, around Danny Wilson and curled a fine effort into the bottom corner.