Giovanni van Bronckhorst blasts Rangers 'unbelievable' first-half collapse against Celtic

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst accused his players of handing Old Firm victory on a plate to Celtic and admitted he could scarcely believe his eyes as he watched the Scottish champions’ first half display.

Van Bronckhorst’s side fell behind inside the opening five minutes to a Reo Hatate goal at Celtic Park before the Japanese midfielder added a second then set up a third for Liel Abada before half-time.

It consigned the Dutch coach to his first defeat since taking charge of the Ibrox club and saw Celtic move one point above them at the top of the Premiership table.

Despite an improved second-half display by Rangers, van Bronckhorst was left bemused by the manner in which his team started the game.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst tries to make a point to his players during the Old Firm clash at Celtic Park. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

“It seemed like it was the first Old Firm game we’d played,” he said. “We know what the Old Firm will bring, what you have to do. But it seemed like we weren’t ready for it. You see the goals we gave away - it’s just sharpness, I cannot say otherwise.

“Not going with your man, not being ready for the battles - it was unbelievable, the first half I saw.

“Our Old Firm game started in the second half. We were much better, much more aggressive. But the first half, we gave the game away.

“For sure, it wasn’t something I expected when I see the training we had the focus we had before the game.

“But when the whistle blew, I think we were just waiting for the goal to be scored. For me, that’s impossible. We were too naive and deserved to be down 3-0, the way we played.”

Van Bronckhorst, who lost 5-1 on his first visit to Celtic Park as a Rangers player in 1998, will now seek an immediate response from his players.

“We had an honest conversation in the locker room after the game,” he said. “It’s a very tough environment to come to but we are not the first Rangers team to lose. I lost very big here in my first year as a player but became champion that year.

“Of course we wanted to win this game but these games don’t decide the championship. We still have many games to play and we need to be ready.”

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