Invincible: “Men versus Boys” – Broony’s Celtic do their talking on the field

A few folk were struggling to open the pages to read the text in our photo special yesterday morning featuring the 5-1 Dembelition Derby at Celtic Park against theRangers in September 2016. Apologies for that, think we got carried away trying to create some memorable match-day memories when we’re all missing Paradise due to the international break. Not long now folks…

Within that article, which you can read below, we had about twelve pages with loads of photographs of the game itself and the supporters outside the stadium. There are two articles included, one from Just and Ordinary Bhoy and a second from Matt Corr, an extract from his brilliant book on that season, Invincible and this was spread out across the numerous photo pages.

If you missed this yesterday and want to enjoy the brilliant images here is the link.

READ THIS…Celtic 5-1 Rangers – Brilliant Photo Gallery from Moussa Dembele’s Perfect Day

If you were struggling with that on your mobile then here is the article from Matt Corr with just a few photographs included!

INVINCIBLE: “Men versus Boys” – Broony’s Celtic do their talking on the field

The only downside of a 4-1 thrashing of Aberdeen at Celtic Park had been a hamstring injury picked up by Leigh Griffiths, which saw his removal during the second half, and which would prevent him playing during the international break and the first domestic fixture beyond that, a home game with newly-promoted Rangers.

Three days later, Rodgers had made his final signing of the summer transfer window, Costa Rican international right-back Cristian Gamboa joining for the proverbial “undisclosed fee” from Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion. The 26-year-old had struggled for game-time under Tony Pulis and had jumped at the opportunity to join the Rodgers Revolution in Glasgow.

“When my agent called me to tell me about Celtic, I said to him, “Do everything because I really want to go. It doesn’t matter if they play Champions League or not – it’s still a big club.” So, for me the fact they have qualified [for the group stage]is like a double bonus – I get to play for this club and to play in the Champions League.”

Gamboa had featured in all five matches in Brazil, as Costa Rica reached the quarter-final of the 2014 World Cup, the full-back playing every minute as the rank outsiders topped their group with victories over Uruguay and Italy, followed by a draw with England. In the Round of 16, he played for 77 minutes in the draw with Greece, the opposition featuring recently-released Celtic striker Georgios Samaras.

The Costa Ricans progressed 5-3 on penalties at the expense of the Greeks but he would be reacquainted with Big Sammy soon enough, the pair joining West Brom within a few weeks of each other in August 2014, Gamboa leaving Norwegian champions Rosenborg. The Celtic theme would continue at the Hawthorns, with future Hoops star Youssef Moulumbu already plying his trade there. It could actually have been even more interesting from that perspective, as both Scott Sinclair and Scott Allan had only left the Midlands club in the close-season to head for Manchester City and Hibernian respectively. A small and interconnected world is football.

Whilst Gamboa had continued to be a first pick for his international team, the likeable full-back had made fewer than twenty appearances in his two years at the Hawthorns. Would this be a problem?

“I always try to keep myself in shape by doing extra work. I wasn’t playing at West Brom but I was playing in all the national team games, so right now I am missing some match fitness but I will come here and do my best, and if you give me the chance I’ll be ready.”

He was deemed ready enough for a place on the bench as Mark Warburton brought his Rangers team across Glasgow for the first meeting of the sides since the ill-fated shoot-out at Hampden, five months earlier. Brendan Rodgers had made just the one, enforced change for the derby, Moussa Dembele replacing the injured Leigh Griffiths. It would prove to be a very significant hand dealt by fate indeed. Some things are just meant to be, I guess.

The teams appeared in the tunnel to a deafening roar from 58,348 fans on Saturday, September 2016, Celts emerging to face a human tricolour in the north-east corner where the Ultras assemble, one of the most visually-effective displays I have ever seen in all my years of supporting the famous Hoops.

Once again, Celtic started in dominant mood, forcing the play, however, we had passed the half-hour mark before the first goal arrived, Scott Sinclair’s curling corner met by a majestic header from Moussa Dembele, which bulleted past Wes Foderingham in the Rangers goal. As the noise levels increased yet further, Dembele made it a derby double, running onto Nir Bitton’s through ball to check back inside Philippe Senderos, the former Arsenal defender left unceremoniously grounded as the Frenchman struck an exquisite right-footed finish around Foderingham and into the far corner for 2-0. Seconds before half-time, the visitors pulled a goal back, literally out of the blue, Kenny Miller’s header across the six-yard box bundled in by Joe Garner, to slightly dampen the party atmosphere over the interval.

The Hoops fans needn’t have worried. On 60 minutes, Mikael Lustig prompted Dembele into life with a pass delivered in from the right flank. This time Moussa deceived the back-peddling Rangers defence by threading a delightful pass through to Sinclair, his clinical one-touch finish clipping the post on its way to making it 3-1, Scott’s fourth successive League goal. The unfortunate Senderos’ afternoon then went from bad to worse, the big Swiss defender stretching up to stop another attack with his hands, with 15 minutes remaining, leaving referee Collum no option but to show him a second yellow card.

There would be more pain to endure for Warburton’s promoted side. As the clock ticked on to 83 minutes, Lustig sent over a perfect cross, which took stand-in central defender Joey Barton out of the game completely. Dembele’s finish was sublime, one touch to control before firmly placing the ball into the far corner with his left-foot for the perfect hat-trick, his first-ever treble in senior football.

The icing on the Celtic cake was provided right at the death, this time Kieran Tierney the provider, his cross from the left picking out Stuart Armstrong. The blond midfielder – a replacement for Rogic early in the second half – momentarily appeared to have missed his opportunity, drifting past defenders only to strike it back across the keeper and in for 5-1. It was party central in the east end of Glasgow.

This would be the first significant checkpoint in the 2016/17 title race. Celtic, having won at Tynecastle and Perth and then scored nine goals at home to the two anticipated “main challengers”, Aberdeen and Rangers, had a 100% record, already four points clear of the Ibrox side with that Partick Thistle game still in hand. It had been a perfect start to the domestic season, with recent signings Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair contributing more than their fair share of goals, whilst Leigh Griffiths had continued where he had left off in May. And all achieved against a background of Champions League qualification and injuries to key players.

It was, therefore, a happy Brendan Rodgers who spoke to the assembled media after the game, asked firstly, of course, about the performance of his exciting young French striker.

“He was outstanding. He was up against Philippe Senderos, who’s an experienced player – but you see his physicality in the game, his heading ability, his running ability and a wonderful touch and finish.”

And his views on the game and the experience overall?

Brendan Rodgers Celtic’s manager celebrates after the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on September 10, 2016. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

“I was disappointed that we conceded a goal before half-time. You expect them to come out and try to force the game in the first ten minutes of the second half and there was too much area opening up, especially in the central areas – so we made the change. Tom’s had a lot of travel in the international break. We said to Stu that this was a game he could come into and look to press and work and he’s done that very well and got his goal. He contributed to a great team performance.”

“It was important to win today and keep the momentum going. We have got to be relentless in our quest to win the title again and that was a good marker for us. The atmosphere today was truly special. When the noise is like that, it really is a team that has a 12th man. They had a real disappointment at Hampden only a few months back, so hopefully they have shown the improvements they have made. It is great for the supporters. It is always about bragging rights for the supporters and I think they will be proud of their team today.”

: Brendan Rodgers manager of Celtic during the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers on September 10, 2016. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Surprisingly, his opposite number Mark Warburton felt there was no significant gap between the sides.

“It’s game five of a long season. We don’t see a major gulf. We just got beat 5-1. They have bragging rights and deserved to win.”

Man-of-the-moment Dembele could scarcely contain his delight, admitting that it was an experience he would remember “for my whole life.”

“It feels great. To score a hat-trick, my first in professional football, is something unbelievable. Everyone has welcomed me since I came to the club and the fans were unbelievable today. The atmosphere is something I have never seen. I don’t think I will see something like this in my career.”

Final word for now goes to the Celtic captain, Scott Brown. He had remained silent whilst Joey Barton, brought in from English Championship side Burnley, on a reputedly large salary, had bad-mouthed him in the press, claiming that Brown was “nowhere near the level of player I am.” The controversial midfielder’s words had come back to haunt him, the veteran Celt dominating proceedings from the outset, leaving the field to a standing ovation on 74 minutes, the game and Joey already in the bag.

Pressed by the headline-seeking media afterwards about the anticipated “battle with Barton,” Brown dismissed it out of hand.

“It was easy.

There was no battling whatsoever.

It was pretty much Men versus Boys at the end of the day.”

An extract from INVINCIBLE, the debut Celtic book from Matt Corr.

Follow Matt on Twitter @ Boola_vogue

Get a free signed copy of INVINCIBLE when you pre-order Majic, Stan and the King of Japan by Matt Corr, out 20 October 2023 – link to order below…

As Matt mentions below we had an incredible response to our promotion yesterday where you get a FREE signed copy of Invincible when pre-ordering Matt’s next book Majic, Stan and the King of Japan which tells the story of Gordon Strachan’s first season at Celtic and is out on Friday 20 October.

We’ll continue this offer until midnight to give everyone – including those who couldn’t read the entire article yesterday – a chance to order.

Published by Celtic Star Books on Friday 20th October 2023

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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