Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

Celtic's win over 'direct' Rangers is big title step, says Rodgers

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers believes 10-man Celtic took a big step towards the Ladbrokes Premiership title after substitute Odsonne Edouard scored a dramatic winner in 3-2 victory over Rangers at Ibrox.

In a classic Old Firm encounter, Josh Windass’s third minute opener for the home side was cancelled out by Parkhead midfielder Tom Rogic and, after Daniel Candeias restored the Light Blues’ lead, Celtic striker Moussa Dembele equalised just before the break.

Hoops defender Jozo Simunovic was shown a straight red by referee Willie Collum for using an arm to brush off Gers striker Alfredo Morelos in the 56th minute before Edouard, 20, on loan from Paris St Germain and on for James Forrest,  curled in the winner in the 69th minute.

The win took the visitors nine points clear of the Gers at the top of the table with a game in hand.

Rodgers insisted the title race was not over  “by a long way”, but also added: “This is obviously a big step, nine points clear with a game in hand but still a lot of work to do.

“But when you come to one of your rivals and perform like we did and be up against it with 10 men for 30 minutes you are entitled to celebrate.”

Rodgers added: “It was a great victory for us and we deserved it. I thought we played well with 11 men. I thought we were the better football team.

“We had to cope with a lot of long balls and direct play. We made a couple of mistakes defensively but we have always got that threat going forward.

“We have a plan when we go to 10 men, you could see what the players were doing and they dealt with that final 30 minutes really well. I am very proud.

Rodgers understood Collum’s decision to send off Simunovic, saying; “I can see why he has given it, Jozo’s arm was slightly bent and his elbow catches him”.

He was more expansive praising keeper Scott Bain, on loan from Dundee, who replaced injured Dorus de Vries to make his Hoops debut.

The Northern Irishman said: “I am delighted for him. He has been absolutely brilliant in training but how it works, of course, is that it takes something to happen to get an opportunity.

“He didn’t have too much time to think about it.

“We gave him an idea last night that he would be playing but it was only officially this morning that we said, ‘Listen, your first game for Celtic is at Ibrox’.

“I am delighted for him and that will give him big confidence as a Celtic player.”

The keeper’s first duty was to pick the ball out of the net, but he made a couple of crucial saves as Rangers pressed in the second half and was glad to gather the ball after Alredo Morelos somehow managed to hit the post from a few yards out in the dying moments.

After the final whistle confirmed Celtic had gone nine points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, Bain (left) joined in with his team-mates as they celebrated in front of the ecstatic travelling support.

“It was the biggest game I ever played in and the biggest win I have ever had,” said Bain.

“The scenes at the end of the game were unbelievable, nothing I have ever seen before.

“The fans were superb and I just wanted to savour that after the game and really enjoy it.

“I don’t normally do that but today was special, the way we won the match, going behind twice, going a man down.

“I will definitely look back at the end of my career on this and think that was an unbelievable debut to make, especially here at Ibrox.

“I thought I handled it well. I woke to a text at 8am this morning. I knew Dorus might be struggling so I had plenty time to get myself right and focused on the game.

“I was glad that I could contribute to the win.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph