Celtic beat 10-man Rangers in chaotic Old Firm derby to take major Scottish Premiership title step

On target: Matt O’Riley started the scoring for Celtic in a thrilling Old Firm derby (Action Images via Reuters)
On target: Matt O’Riley started the scoring for Celtic in a thrilling Old Firm derby (Action Images via Reuters)

Celtic took a major step towards a third successive Scottish Premiership title and 54th overall with a chaotic Old Firm derby victory over 10-man Rangers.

The main action in a typically frenetic showdown between the bitter Glasgow rivals on Saturday was condensed into a wild 10-minute spell at the end of the first half, when Celtic scored twice in quick succession thanks to a crisp low Matt O’Riley strike and unfortunate own goal from John Lundstram, who turned a Daizen Maeda cross into his own net.

Cyriel Dessers headed in just seconds later though to halve the deficit for Rangers, who were then crucially reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half-time when Lundstram saw a yellow card for a woeful challenge on Alistair Johnston upgraded to red after referee Willie Collum was advised by VAR to consult the pitchside monitor.

Rangers faced a predictable second-half onslaught with that numerical disadvantage, but showed impressive resilience as Jack Butland saved a tame O’Riley penalty after the latter was tripped by Mohamed Diomande, a spot-kick award that was not reversed despite Collum again being sent to the monitor by VAR.

Maeda saw two goals ruled out for offside as the chances piled up for Celtic in the second half, but they failed to kill off the game despite mustering 22 shots in total with substitute Adam Idah particularly wasteful off the bench.

Rangers continued pushing until the end, but ultimately could not find a dramatic late equaliser that could have kept their faint title hopes alive for another week.

Instead, the trophy now looks extremely likely to be heading to Celtic Park once again, with Brendan Rodgers’ side now sitting six points clear of their eternal rivals at the Scottish Premiership summit with a markedly better goal difference and only two games left to play this season.

Celtic travel to Kilmarnock next before finishing off an eventful campaign at home to St Mirren, while Rangers welcome Dundee before ending at third-placed Hearts on the final day.

But Rangers do still have one more chance to add to their League Cup success when they take on Celtic again in a heavyweight Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on May 25.

A full year has now almost passed since Rangers last beat Celtic, who have yet to lose to a Philippe Clement side.

Rangers’ long wait for a victory at Celtic Park goes on, stretching all the way back to 2020 when they went on to lift the title under Steven Gerrard.