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Thursday 16 August 2018

Rodgers: 'Firm win a big step on road to reclaiming Scottish crown'

Rangers 2 Celtic 3

IBROX PARTY: Celtic players (l-r) Scott Bain, Kristoffer Ajer and Scott Brown celebrate their Old Firm win over Rangers at Ibrox yesterday. Photo: PA
IBROX PARTY: Celtic players (l-r) Scott Bain, Kristoffer Ajer and Scott Brown celebrate their Old Firm win over Rangers at Ibrox yesterday. Photo: PA

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

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. 

Mistakes

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. 

"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 since January, 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." 

Rangers manager Graeme Murty conceded he had endured the biggest disappointment of his career by squandering "a real good opportunity to apply some pressure" to Celtic. 

He said: "It was a big opportunity that we failed to grasp. 

"I am not sure those opportunities comes along too often in your career.

"It is the hardest one so far to take. We squandered a real good opportunity to apply some pressure. 

"I said to the players, you can't afford to give good players space and time because they will hurt you and I thought they showed that very well today."

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