Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic hammered arch Glasgow rivals Rangers 5-0 to secure a seventh successive Scottish title with an emphatic Old Firm victory on Sunday.
This win, achieved in front of their own fans at Celtic Park, gave Brendan Rodgers’ side an unassailable 10-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table over Aberdeen, who can only take a maximum of nine points from their three remaining league games.
Rangers are three points further back in third place.
Celtic are now just two shy of the record of nine Scottish titles in a row they already share with Rangers.
The Hoops’ title party started early as they went 3-0 up before half-time.
Odsonne Edouard gave Celtic an early lead before Edouard and James Forrest added two more goals late in the opening period.
Two minutes after the break, Tom Rogic made it 4-0 with Callum McGregor scoring Celtic’s fifth goal in the 53rd minute.
Defeat did little for Rangers caretaker manager Graeme Murty’s hopes of holding onto his job, amid speculation the Gers are set to appoint Liverpool great Steven Gerrard as their new permanent boss.
Rodgers, who was Gerrard’s manager at Liverpool for the latter part of the celebrated midfielder’s Anfield career, is now unbeaten in 11 games against Rangers since he arrived in Glasgow in 2016 — a run made up of nine wins and two draws.
The Northern Irishman is also just a Scottish Cup final win over Motherwell away from guiding Celtic to an unprecedented second successive domestic treble.
“The performance was really pleasing, under the pressure and given the game,” Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“You have to play football and today we did the basics really well,” he added.
“We were outstanding and could have had more goals…It’s been a brilliant season by the players.”
Rangers goalkeeper Jak Alnwick made his Old Firm debut in place of the injured Wes Foderingham.
Alnwick made a couple of saves but the writing was on the wall for Rangers, with Edouard opening the scoring in the 14th minute when he turned in a Kieran Tierney cut-back from close range.
It looked like Rangers might head into the break just a goal behind but that hope was dashed four minutes before half-time.
Rangers’ Graham Dorrans lost possession and Forrest sent Edouard clear into the visitors’ box, where he drove a low shot past Alnwick and into the far corner.
And there was still time for Celtic to extend their lead prior to the end of the first half when Forrest struck from 10 yards.
During the celebrations for that third goal, Celtic’s Mikael Lustig courted controversy when he stole a policeman’s hat.
“We are disappointed with the player’s action and have spoken to the club who will deal with the matter internally,” said a Police Scotland spokeswoman.
“There will be no further police action taken.” It was the closest any Celtic player came to getting into trouble all game.
Barely had the second half got underway before Rogic made it 4-0 from the edge of the box and McGregor added a fifth goal after he was played in by Edouard.
There was still plenty of time left in the game for Celtic to surpass their biggest win over Rangers — a 7-1 success back in 1957 — and the only surprise was that they didn’t add to their tally of goals.
Celtic fans, however, were more than happy with a final scoreline of 5-0.