Celtic defeat Rangers in SWPL to take huge step towards Champions League football

Celtic make it a hat-trick of Old Firm wins in Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) to edge closer to Champions League qualification.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 21: Sarah Ewens in action for Celtic during a SWPL match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park, on April 21, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

A late header from Celtic’s Sarah Ewens ensured a third Old Firm win in a row for the Hoops as Fran Alonso’s side edged closer to Champions League qualification.

A tight affair was decided by Ewens 83rd minute header, following first half strikes from Celtic’s Kelly Clark (19) and Rangers’ Rachel McLauchlan (27).

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Rangers boss Malky Thomson was able to welcome back Kirsten Reilly from injury, while Chantelle Swaby replaced midweek goal hero Carly Girasoli in defence. For Celtic, Chloe Logan and skipper Clark were restored to the starting line-up by Hoops boss Alonso.

The Blue Belles had the first chance of the game following good pressing from Zoe Ness, who fashioned a cross for Arnot, however, her well-placed effort was cleared off the line by the Hoops. Brogan Hay should have put Gers ahead moments later, but she will be disappointed she was unable to direct Sam Kerr’s cross into Logan’s net.

Celtic rallied shortly after, with Mariah Lee forcing Jenna Fife in to an outstanding save, however, they wouldn’t have to wait long to take the lead when Clark met Robertson’s corner to send a bullet header into the Rangers net.

Thomson’s side would roar back less than 10 minutes later when Scotland international McLauchlan fired home her first goal in Rangers blue with a 25-yard strike. Neat interplay from the home side saw Kerr’s effort palmed wide just before Logan made a fabulous save to deny Hay’s snapshot, as the Gers ended the half in the ascendancy.

If the first half had the makings of a true ding-dong Old Firm derby though, the second half would see the sides cancel each other out as the rain came down heavier on the Auchenhowie park. Celtic, who looked dangerous on the break with Lee proving a constant menace for the hosts, continued to frustrate Rangers, restricting them to half chances in the second period, though neither side was able to fashion many clear cut chances throughout the half.

However, Rangers were once again left shell-shocked by their rivals late on. A late break saw Gers’ ‘keeper Jenna Fife tip a looping header onto the bar but, just as they had done in the first half, the resulting corner saw Ewens send a bullet header into the Rangers net.

It was the third time Celtic struck in the final minutes of the Old Firm this season to snatch a mammoth victory, with a result that moves Alonso’s Hoops into second place, two points ahead of Rangers and surely puts the Ghirls on course for Champions League qualification with just a fortnight of the season left.

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