Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
Sunday, March 11, 2018
(Windass 3, Candieas 26)
(Rogic 11, 45+1, Edouard 69)
ODSONNE Edouard’s sensational strike saw 10-man Celtic edge a five-goal Glasgow derby thriller at Ibrox and take a massive step towards a seventh successive league title.
Just minutes after entering the fray from the bench, the 20-year-old curled home a sublime shot to put the Hoops in front for the first time in the match, a lead which they determinedly preserved until the final whistle, sparking jubilant scenes among the players, management team and the away supporters.
Earlier, the champions had pegged back the hosts twice in the first half, through Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele, with Josh Windass and Daniel Candeias on target for the hosts.
The match looked to have swung towards Rangers when Jozo Simunovic harshly saw red after clashing with Alfredo Morelos early in the second half but Brendan Rodgers’ side showed their class, quality and spirit to claim the victory, despite their man disadvantage.
And they now hold a nine-point lead at the top of the table over their city rivals, with a game in hand as the league campaign enters the closing straight.
Following an injury to Dorus de Vries, Scott Bain made his Celtic debut between the sticks, and his inclusion was one of three changes to the team that cruised past Morton last weekend to seal a spot in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Dedryck Boyata also returned from injury, having been sidelined for over a month, while Callum McGregor, who found the net twice against Rangers last season, also came into the starting XI.
There was the usual frenetic start to proceedings, but Celtic found themselves behind with only three minutes on the clock. Boyata was dispossessed by Windass, who ran through no goal and beat Bain with an angled drive.
Unflustered, the Hoops threatened a swift response when Olivier Ntcham threaded a pass through for the onrushing Kieran Tierney in the box but the full-back elected to cut the ball back instead of pulling the trigger and there were no-one on hand to capitalise.
However, it didn’t take long for the champions to restore parity thanks to another moment of magic from Celtic’s Wizard of Oz, Rogic. Receiving possession 30 yards from goal, the midfielder drove at the heart of the Rangers backline, before curling an exquisite shot into the far corner to send the away end into bedlam.
Brendan Rodgers’ side were now enjoying large periods of possession, probing for openings and fashioning several promising positions, though the next effort on goal fell the way of the hosts as Declan John fired over after cutting in from the left.
Simunovic did get a sight of goal for the Bhoys, after Kristoffer Ajer had headed McGregor’s corner back into the mix, but he was unable to keep his effort down.
And it was Graeme Murty’s side who struck again in the 26th minute as a cross from the left dropped invitingly for Candeias, who rifled into the corner.
Buoyed by that, the home side poured forward, with Alfredo Morelos lashing across goal. Down the other end, Rogic brought out a save from Foderingham from distance as the game surged from end to end.
Six minutes before the break, Foderingham was called into action again, diving to his left to push Dembele’s header wide, following Rogic’s corner.
As the Hoops maintained the pressure, Foderingham failed to gather Ntcham’s cross, Dembele was first to the loose ball but his attempt was charged down.
As half-time approached, it was all Celtic, and McGregor forced the increasingly busy Foderingham into a smart save with low effort after good work from Dembele.
Eventually the pressure told. Scott Brown lofted a ball over the top, despite being fouled by Candeais, and Dembele beat the offside trap and then coolly lobbed Foderingham to send the teams in level after a breathless opening 45 minutes.
Celtic continued where they had left off as the second half resumed. A lovely flick from Dembele released McGregor down the left. He was felled as he entered the box, with the loose falling for Ntcham, who couldn’t control his final attempt.
After good work from Tierney and McGregor, Dembele had a similar result to Ntcham, but the Bhoys were now firmly in ascendency, with McGregor particularly assertive.
But then the game swung back in Rangers’ direction. Simunovic and Morelos challenged for a long ball and referee Willie Collum gave the Hoops defender his marching orders for alleged elbow to the face.
Brendan Rodgers responded by sending on Jack Hendry for Rogic, and making a quick tactical reshuffle as McGregor dropped into a deeper role.
Helped by an excellent save from Bain from Morelos, the ten men doggedly held firm and then stunned the home crowd by taking the lead.
Edouard had only been on the pitch two minutes when he found himself with some space at the edge of the box, and the young striker beat Foderingham with a sensational strike that nestled in the far corner, sparkling delirium among the Hoops faithful.
Despite their man advantage, Rangers couldn’t find a way through as the brave Bhoys showed tremendous discipline and defensive durability.
It took until the dying minutes for the Ibrox side to seriously threaten – Windass fired in an angled drive which Bain pushed onto the post, before the keeper reacted brilliant to make a miraculous save to deny Morelos from the rebound, as the champions held firm to seal a magnificent victory.
CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bain; Ajer, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest (Edouard 67), Rogic (Hendry 59), McGregor; Dembele (Armstrong 86)
Not Used: Doohan, Roberts, Sinclair, Musonda
RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Bates (Cardoso 14), Alves, John; Docherty, Goss (Cummings 74); Candeias, Windass, Murphy; Morelos
Not Used: Alnwick, Miller, Herrera, Halliday, Holt
Motherwell v Celtic
18th March 2018
Kick Off 14:15