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Celtic loss adds to Rangers woes
Celtic added to the woes of administration-hit Rangers with a comprehensive 3-0 win over their Old Firm rivals in their final Clydesdale Bank Premier League meeting of the season at Parkhead.
Goals from defender Charlie Mulgrew and midfielder Kris Commons, his first of the season, gave the rampant champions a commanding interval lead. Striker Gary Hooper scored with a thumping drive soon after the break and it looked for a spell as if the home side were going to hand out a real hammering to the Govan men.
However, three goals were enough for the celebrating Celtic fans who can brag of a 21-point lead over their old rivals, an indication of their superiority this season even in light of the 10 points Rangers were deducted in February for entering administration.
Celtic showed the strength of their squad by bringing back five of their star players - goalkeeper Fraser Forster, right-back Adam Matthews, stopper Glenn Loovens, skipper Scott Brown and striker Georgios Samaras. Gers boss Ally McCoist named the same side which beat Hearts last week with Lee McCulloch leading the line.
It was a peculiar build-up to the game due to Celtic having wrapped up the title and the problems of the Ibrox club but as Hoops boss Neil Lennon took his seat in the stand - he was serving the second of a two-match touchline ban - the fans were in full voice.
Rangers looked decent enough in the early stages and in the 16th minute they missed a good chance when midfielder Rhys McCabe robbed Brown in the middle of the park with a crunching tackle. He fed Steven Whittaker who played in Andrew Little but the Gers striker failed to connect properly and Forster saved comfortably.
A minute later Celtic were ahead through Mulgrew with their first corner of the match. Commons' cross from the right missed the mass of bodies in the middle to find the unmarked Celtic defender rushing in to bullet a header past Allan McGregor.
The Ibrox defence had to hold firm as the home side went looking for the second, but their task became even more difficult just after the half-hour mark when Celtic went two ahead through Commons. Brown's pass to Hooper was quickly moved infield and Commons took advantage of Kyle Bartley's missed tackle to chip the ball over McGregor.
The Ibrox side looked close to unravelling amid the din from the home fans and it was a bedraggled looking Rangers who welcomed the half-time whistle. The early stages of the second half did little to suggest a comeback and Celtic got a third goal in the 53rd minute when Samaras played in Hooper and he hammered the ball in high.
As the Light Blues fans sang non-stop in defiance, certain in their side's defeat, Celtic took a breather but remained well in control. Brown picked up a yellow card for a foul on Kerkar near the end but that did not detract from a convincing Celtic win.