Brendan Rodgers saluted his greatest win over Rangers while at the same time acknowledging Celtic have taken a major step towards a seventh successive title.
The Celtic manager has plenty of options from which to choose when selecting his favourite moment against Rangers. Yesterday’s 3-2 win was Rodgers’ ninth unbeaten game against the Ibrox side, seven of which have been won. But he rightly savoured the latest victory because of the challenging circumstances in which it came.
Reduced to ten men as early as the 56th minute after Jozo Simunovic’s red card for an elbow on Alfredo Morelos and with the score 2-2, Celtic managed to strike the winning goal through substitute Odsonne Edouard after 69 minutes. Celtic are now nine points clear of Rangers at the top of the Premiership and have played one game less than their rivals, in second place. “It’s definitely my most satisfying win [over Rangers],” said Rodgers.
“The odds are against you at times. That was like one of those Celtic-Rangers games you watched growing up when there was lots of drama.
“It gives me great pride,” he added. “Not only did we play well , we showed that toughness and character you need. In fairness to Rangers, they’ve been in really good form. They were at the height of their confidence levels. It was an immense performance.
“There was a lot of noise [from Rangers] coming into this game. But the guys kept their humility and had to come back twice from behind. We were the better footballing team. We made a couple of mistakes defensively.
“When we went to ten men the players were calm. We have a plan when we go down to ten men. They dealt with the final 35 minutes very well. I am very proud.”
“It is a big step for us to go nine points clear with a game in hand,” added Rodgers, pictured, who saluted the away fans along with his players at the end.
“There is still a lot of work for us to do. But when you come to one of your rivals and perform as we did and be up against it with ten men for 35 minutes you are entitled to celebrate.”
Rodgers was forced to hand goalkeeper Scott Bain, on loan from Dundee, a debut in the potentially unforgiving
setting of Ibrox after Dorus De Vries failed a late fitness
test. Despite being beaten twice in the opening 26 minutes, Bain had a fine match, making two good second-half stops from Alfredo Morelos and Josh Windass.
“He didn’t have too much time to think about it – we gave him an idea (on Saturday night) he may play but it was only officially this morning that we said: ‘Listen, your first game for
Celtic is at Ibrox’,” revealed Rodgers.
Bain’s last first-team appearance was in a 3-1 loss for Dundee against Hamilton Accies in October, after which he fell out with Dens Park manager Neil McCann. He has since had a spell on loan at Hibs, where he didn’t play.
“I’m delighted for him” said Rodgers. “He has been brilliant in training but of course how it works for goalkeeper is it takes something to happen for them to get an