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Rangers 1-2 Celtic: Title lead looks handsome under 'sure touch' Ange Postecoglou after ugly derby day win

On a day of ugliness at Ibrox, it was more a case of infirm rather than Old Firm for the defeated champions. Rangers threw the kitchen sink at Celtic, ineffectively. Some people among the Rangers support threw missiles, scandalously.

The police are investigating. While they’re at it, they might organise a search party for anybody who still believes that this title is going anywhere other than to the east of the city. The league isn’t over, but the band is playing and the lady’s about to sing.

Celtic didn’t show much of the elan that blew Rangers away the last time around, but they were still too good for a team who are now six points behind with six games to go.

To put that into context, Celtic have dropped six points in five months. The idea that they’re going to drop the same number in the run-in is a bit of a long shot.

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Celtic have built a handsome lead at the top while struggling to to field their strongest team all season. That’s quite something. That day is coming, though. Kyogo Furuhashi is on his way.

There wasn’t just defeat for Rangers, there was also the aroma of £30m of Champions League loot drifting away in the breeze to contend with. And disgrace, too. The throwing of glass on to the pitch and the reported launching of other missiles at Celtic players and staff, one of whom was cut and needed stitches, was shocking.

In a stadium with advanced security cameras, it’s to be hoped that the miscreants will be found and punished. Rangers would want that to happen as much as anybody else.

The Scottish Professional Football League say they are awaiting the match delegate’s report. Given that the governing body of the league doesn’t issues sanctions in the wake of sectarian singing – it says that it’s not in its power to do so – is it unrealistic to expect it to do something about the safety of players and coaches being compromised? Scottish football needs to be a whole lot better in dealing with its moronic element.

Celtic have asked questions, Rangers found no answers

The game, well, it was no epic, but that’s the way of things sometimes when the stakes are so high. Rangers took the lead with a terrific goal that suggested they might do to Celtic what Celtic did to them in February, but that clinical edge disappeared in short order.

Callum McGregor helped relieve them of their lead, driving at their guts and creating the confusion that fellow midfielder Tom Rogic capitalised on with a cool finish. Centre-half Cameron Carter-Vickers scored the goal that decided it. Celtic deserved their victory.

The fact they achieved it without hitting the heights they know they are capable of will only make it sweeter. For Rangers, it was their first league defeat at home in two years and it looked remarkably like the changing of the guard.

There are two versions of Rangers right now. There’s the Rangers in Europe, where they go up against, and beat, teams that they’re not really expected to beat. This season, in the Europa League, they’re revelling wonderfully in their guise of scalp-taking underdogs.

Then there’s the domestic Rangers who exist in a pressure cooker. Expectation is on them like a deadweight on their shoulder – and they haven’t coped that well. Celtic, recast dramatically under Ange Postecoglou, have asked questions and Rangers have found no answers.

Rangers have tried to strengthen their starting line-up from last season, but they’ve toiled. Midfielder James Sands, forward Fashion Sakala and winger Amad Diallo all started on the bench on Sunday. Juninho Bacuna was signed in the summer but has since left the club. Fellow midfielders Aaron Ramsey and John Lundstram started against Celtic but didn’t have the impact that their manager needed them to have.

Meanwhile, Postecoglou has hit the bullseye in the transfer market. Give him a technicolour mohawk and he’s Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright, such is his sure touch.

This was not a game where his creative players lit it up, though. Stout defending and good characters got them through.

Celtic's Cameron Carter-Vickers celebrates at Ibrox
On-loan Tottenham Hotspur centre-half Cameron Carter-Vickers’ career has been revived by Celtic

‘A different world under Postecoglou’

It’s a team that’s been built with breakneck speed and unerring accuracy by Postecoglou, a team that settled and bonded quickly. That’s a fine feat of management.

Eight of the starting line-up on Sunday weren’t at the club 10 months ago. Rogic was there, but he looked like his best years were behind him. Greg Taylor was also there, but the left-back was deemed by some among his own support to be substandard.

Both played well on Sunday. While most others were running around with their hair on fire in that opening half, Rogic was one of the few that showed composure on the ball.

In the stories of two others who delivered big performances, we see Postecoglou’s influence. Joe Hart had to make one save – and he made it. It was a huge moment.

The former England goalkeeper has bounced around unhappily from club to club over the last six years. Carter-Vickers, who defended excellently as well as scoring the winner, has a similar tale to tell. From Tottenham Hotspur to Sheffield United, to Ipswich Town, to Swansea City, to Stoke City, to Luton Town, to Bournemouth – he’s been a one-man travelling roadshow for years.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates at Ibrox
Ange Postecoglou has transformed Celtic in a short time frame

Hart and Carter-Vickers have found stability under Postecoglou at Celtic. The Aussie’s management has not just been about finding gems in Japan, it’s been about reviving players that others had given up on.

What Postecoglou has done in signing brilliantly and in re-energising players already at the club is a reminder of what Brendan Rodgers did in his first season with Celtic when he brought in Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair and resurrected the careers of Scott Brown and James Forrest.

He’s done it from a position of weakness – miles behind Rangers last season and shambolic in the transfer market with a disgruntled support watching on.

Celtic failed in their pursuit of Eddie Howe as manager last summer. If the footballing gods exist then perhaps they were sending the club a message. It’s like a different world under Postecoglou and Sunday was the latest manifestation of it.

So much has happened so quickly on his watch. The sense of him only getting started in the job must be an intoxicating one for the supporters. It’ll take something remarkable to stop them now.

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