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Celtic draw first blood with victory at Rangers

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Celtic’s players celebrate Christopher Jullien’s goal during the UEFA Europa League play-off, second leg football match between AIK and Celtic FC at Friends Arena, on August 29, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. Jonas EKSTROMER / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP

Celtic landed an early blow in the race for the Scottish Premiership title as they beat bitter rivals Rangers 2-0 on Sunday in the first Old Firm derby of the season

Neil Lennon’s side are bidding for a historic ninth successive Scottish title and their impressive show at Ibrox was a significant statement of intent.

Odsonne Edouard put Celtic ahead in the first half. The visitors controlled the tempo for long periods until Jonny Hayes wrapped up the points in stoppage-time.

Rangers, hoping to mount a sustained challenge to Celtic’s supremacy, had enjoyed an encouraging start to the season with three consecutive league wins.

But on the evidence of the Hoops’ confident display against Steven Gerrard’s men, they remain the pre-eminent force in Scottish football as they extended their perfect start to the title defence with a fourth successive victory.

French forward Edouard capitalised on a loose pass to net his fifth goal in seven derbies in the 32nd minute.

Rangers defender Connor Goldson gave the ball straight to Celtic winger Mikey Johnston, who slipped the 21-year-old through to slot home.

Rangers had started without top goalscorer Alfredo Morelos, who had netted the late winner against Legia Warsaw that took them into the Europa League group stage in midweek.

With former Tottenham star Jermain Defoe up front, Rangers took almost an hour to manage a shot on target in a lacklustre performance that raised doubts about their ability to dethrone Celtic.

In a game of few clear chances, Celtic stood firm despite losing centre-back Nir Bitton to injury.

Gerrard introduced Morelos on the hour in a bid to increase his side’s attacking threat

But Celtic substitute Hayes killed off Rangers deep into stoppage-time as he sprinted clear to score at the second attempt.

And Rangers suffered another blow in the final seconds when substitute Jordan Jones was sent off for a foul on Moritz Bauer.

All four Old Firm clashes were won by the home team last season, but Celtic ended that pattern in the opening encounter of the new campaign.


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