WHERE do you start on this game? Celtic dominated a Rangers side for the first 45 minutes, scored a wonderful goal and saw the Ibrox side reduced to ten men when the disgraceful Alfredo Morelos assaulted Scott Brown right in front of the Assistant Referee at the North Stand side of Paradise.
It looked like game over and Steven Gerrard would have been raging with the Columbian gangster who looked to have surrendered any chance that they had. The former Liverpool youth coach would however have been relieved to be just the one goal down and for that he had his goalkeeper Allan McGregor to thank for at least three top quality stops.
But he could do nothing when Odsonne Edouard showed all his class to make room for his shot which seemed to dummy McGregor. It was sublime from a real quality striker rather than that football hooligan who some reckon with attack a big money offer?
Who is going to but this thug when he has proved himself time and time again to be completely unreliable.
Scott Bain must have been thinking he could have had that hour we lost last night in bed and turned up for the second half. No-one would have noticed as he’d nothing to do.
Jonny Hayes picked up a booking in that first period and coupled with the Morelos sending off, Neil Lennon made a change at the break, bringing on Sinclair for the Irishman, thus denying Madden a chance to level things up.
Sinclair started brightly and worked a great chance but with the support anticipating a second goal, McGregor yet again got a touch to turn it away for a corner.
The Rangers were camped in but Celtic’s slick play seemed to evaporate and with the fluency gone the visitors started to make one or two forward plays. And with their first shot of the game Kent fired low into the net part Bain from the edge of the box.
Paradise was hushed, save for the celebrations from the 800 bigots in the corner – was in early today when the Celtic stands were empty. Their first three songs, Up to knees in other folk’s blood, child abuse and mental health was their agenda.
Neil Lennon replaced Olivier Ntcham who had faded after an outstanding first half with Tom Rogic and then Kieran Tierney had to go off with an ankle injury. Moments later the Rangers had a great chance to take the lead but thankfully the effort flew over the bar.
But Dedryck Boyata stayed down and signalled that he could not continue. By the time he hobbled back to the dugout – which he battered in frustration- Celtic has now lost their goal advantage, their extra man advantage and were in danger of losing the match. It was a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.
Neil Lennon moved Toljan over to right back with Lustig going into the middle of the defence and Callum McGregor moves to left back and with five minutes left he intercepted a Rangers pass to send Edouard away down the channel, his cross to Forrest found the winger in loads of space and he steadied himself before picking his spot.
Paradise exploded, Kris Ajer was almost taken out by a flare as he ran towards the corner to celebrate. Scott Brown was then punched in the face by Kent – remarkably missed by Madden and his assistants but not by the photographers and presumably not by the TV cameras.
At the final whistle after Madden added five minutes – yes, they get that too – there was another rammy. Andy Halliday, who should have got a second booking for taking out Sinclair deep into stoppage time, was then got his red card.
So from being level on points after the “Greatest Day of my life” on 29 December, Halliday’s season is over, 13 points behind Celtic and pumped in the Scottish Cup by Aberdeen, who earlier in the season ended their interest in the League Cup.
Steven Gerrard got his excuses in early today, claiming he needs money that they don’t have in order to complete with Celtic. He’s going to blame Morelos, who is in line for a long ban surely and also stands to lose Kent for violent conduct. Kilmarnock will be fancying their chances of finishing second.
Best for Celtic were Ajer, Ntcham, Brown and Edouard.
Man of the Match – Alfredo Morelos