Celtic prepare for trip to Barcelona with 5-1 thrashing of rivals Rangers
Celtic prepared for Tuesday’s trip to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League by thrashing rivals Rangers 5-1 at Parkhead in the first Old Firm derby in four years.
Moussa Dembele, only playing due to an injury to top scorer Leigh Griffiths, scored a hat-trick on his debut. The French striker became the first player to score a hat-trick in the fixture since Ally McCoist in the 1983 League Cup final.
He opened the scoring with a header in the 34th minute before firing home a fine solo finish to double Celtic’s advantage eight minutes later.
Rangers pulled one back in the 45th minute through Joe Garner, but Dembele then set up Scott Sinclair to make it 3-1.
More European football:
• The weekend’s schedule: All kick-off times from across Europe
• Ian Hawkey: On the intriguing Mediterranean derby
The former Fulham forward then sealed the first Celtic hat-trick in an Old Firm league fixture since 1966 in the 84th minute after Rangers had been reduced to 10 men after Philippe Senderos picked up a second booking for a deliberate handball.
Substitute Stuart Armstrong finished the scoring in stoppage time to continue Celtic’s 100 per cent start to the season as they move four points clear of Rangers with a game in hand against their fierce rivals.
Off the pitch the atmosphere was electric as the two sets of fans introduced themselves to each other following a four-year absence in the Scottish Premiership.
However, the entertainment on it was limited until Celtic grabbed the opener. The Rangers defence switched off and Dembele was allowed a free run to head home Sinclair’s corner in off the post.
The Celtic striker has been living in the shadow of goal machine Griffiths since the start of the season, but the French forward grabbed his opportunity and fired the hosts further in front.
Kiernan’s slack pass was intercepted by Bitton who slid a pass through for Dembele and the French striker turned Senderos before clipping the ball past Wes Foderingham.
Rangers’ hopes appeared to be slipping away but they pulled a goal back from nowhere on the verge of half-time.
James Tavernier’s cross was headed back across goal by Kenny Miller and Garner leapt to nod the ball over the line from close range for his first goal for Rangers.
The visitors started the second half with more energy as Andy Halliday replaced Niko Kranjcar and came close to an equaliser when Barrie McKay curled an effort inches wide of Dorus de Vries’ far post.
However, it was Celtic who increased their lead through Sinclair.
Worse was to come for Rangers in the 75th minute as Kiernan limped off injured before Senderos saw red as he bizarrely opted to punch the ball away after a mistimed jump to pick up his second booking.
This left Rangers with just Lee Wallace and Tavernier as recognised defenders and Celtic took advantage as Dembele sealed his hat-trick with a low shot beyond Foderingham.
Armstrong completed the rout late on as he fired an angled shot past the Rangers’ keeper to finish a free-flowing passing move.
Celtic next face Spanish champions Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Tuesday in their first match of the Champions League group stage.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport
Published: September 10, 2016 04:00 AM