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  • Ntcham the derby hero for dominant Celts in Paradise

    Ntcham the derby hero for dominant Celts in Paradise

    By: Mark Henderson on 02 Sep, 2018 19:09

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Sunday, September 2, 2018

    (Ntcham 62)


    OLIVIER Ntcham’s second-half strike sealed a deserved Glasgow derby victory for a dominant Celtic over Rangers in Paradise. The Scottish champions completely controlled a one-sided contest, hitting the crossbar three times and the post as well, before they finally made the breakthrough through the French midfielder, who swept home following a brilliant breakaway.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side came close to adding to their tally in the closing stages, while the visitors were unable to meaningfully test Craig Gordon as the Celts held firm to bank maximum reward, extending Irishman’s unbeaten record over the Ibrox club to 12 matches.

    It was also a statement of intent from the Double Treble winners - despite talk of new challenges, they are determined to maintain their domestic supremacy and secure eight-in-row. And the final whistle brought jubilant celebrations from the players, managers and a packed-out Paradise following a fantastic performance.    

    Odsonne Edouard had recovered from injury to lead the line for the Celts. The inclusion of the striker, who bagged a brilliant brace in the last meeting of the sides towards the end of last season, was one of three changes to the team that convincingly dispatched FK Suduva 3-0 on Thursday night to secure progression to the UEFA Europa League group stages.

    James Forrest and Tom Rogic also came back into the starting XI, with Mikey Johnston, Leigh Griffiths and Scott Sinclair dropping out.  New Bhoy Filip Benkovic was named among the substitutes following his deadline-day move from Leicester City.

    Backed by a thunderous home support, Celtic started on the front foot and it only took two minutes for Forrest to demonstrate his pace and menace. The winger burst beyond Borna Barisic and crossed in the direction of Edouard, who was crowded out as he attempted to pull the trigger.

    Brendan Rodgers’ men also had a decent penalty shout waved away when Kristoffer Ajer was hauled down in the box, but referee Willie Collum wasn’t interested. It has been one-way traffic, though the visitors finally fashioned a sight of goal in the 15th minute when Ryan Jack shot over from the edge of the box.

    The Hoops continued to boss possession and looked the more likely to break the deadlock, particularly through the enterprise and skill of Kieran Tierney down the left.

    And after Callum McGregor’s curling free-kick was inches away from finding the head of several on-rushing Hoops players, goalkeeper Allan McGregor should have seen red after clearly kicking Krisftoffer Ajer as the Norwegian lay on the deck.

    As the pressure intensified on the Rangers goal, the hosts struck the woodwork twice in quick succession. First, Forrest crashed a magnificent effort off the bar from 25 yards after Connor Goldson had only partially cleared a Celtic corner. Moments later, Lustig suffered the same fate, heading on to the bar after Edouard had flicked on Ntcham’s corner.

    As half-time approached, Allan McGregor then came to his side’s rescue, saving at point-blank range from Edouard, who had been picked out by Callum McGregor following wonderful work, once again, from Tierney.  

    Scott Brown had the last attempt of a one-sided half as the Ibrox side somehow went in at the interval on level terms. The pattern continued as the second half got underway. Within four minutes of the restart, Allan McGregor got a hand to Ntcham’s low drive from distance, sending it on to the bar, with the keeper gratefully grasping the rebound.

    The champions continued their onslaught, forcing corner after corner, desperate last-ditch defending from the away side.

    Eventually, just past the hour-mark, Rangers’ resistance crumbled. Rogic won a tussle with Ryan Jack and led a Celtic breakaway. Edouard found Forrest in the box, and the winger showed calmness and composure to pick out Ntcham at the far post, and the Frenchman applied the finish, sending Paradise into bedlam.  

    Griffiths entered the fray shortly after for Edouard, and he almost created number two with his first touch, Lustig glancing his corner inches wide of the far post. The hit-man came close with a couple of attempts himself, shooting narrowly wide and having a powerful free-kick pushed away by Allan McGregor has the Bhoys continued to threaten.

    Forced to emerge from their defensive shell, Steven Gerrard’s men finally ventured forward in the closing stages. Although Lafferty headed wide and Tavernier was off target with a shot, Gordon never had a save to make as the champions showed resilience, unity and determination to see out the contest and harvest all three points, sending them up to second spot in the table ahead of the international break.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (Sinclair 90+2), Rogic (Christie 77), McGregor; Edouard (Griffiths 66)
    Not Used: Bain, Gamboa, Benkovic, Kouassi

    RANGERS (4-3-3) McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Arfield, Jack (Middleton 80), Ejaria; Kent (Candeias 86), Morelos, Lafferty
    Not Used: Foderingham, Worrall, Flanagan, Halliday, McCrorie,

    Website Man of the Match: Oliver Ntcham


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