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Rogic stars as Celtic sink Rangers

Glasgow (AFP) – Tom Rogic put Scottish champions Celtic on course for a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Rangers in the Old Firm derby at Ibrox on Saturday.

An open first half saw both sides spurn chances before the Hoops took a 50th minute lead thanks to a fierce strike from Socceroos star Rogic.

Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths then doubled Celtic’s advantage 15 minutes later as the visitors extended their domestic unbeaten run to 57 matches.

Despite a more spirited performance than in their 5-1 defeat the last time the sides met at Ibrox in April, Rangers now trail their Glasgow rivals by eight points after just seven Scottish Premiership matches.

Celtic cemented their position on top of the table, giving them a boost ahead of their midweek Champions League visit to Anderlecht.

“I thought we were absolutely outstanding,” Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said. 

“We scored two, could have had more, but very importantly we were very strong defensively as well.”

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha added: “The team that committed less mistakes won. We committed two mistakes that lead to the final result. 

“After they scored the second, with the quality they have, they could manage the game.”

Ranges were dealt a blow before kick-off as injury robbed them of the experience of Portuguese veteran Bruno Alves, meaning 19-year-old Ross McCrorie was handed his first start.

Caixinha’s summer rebuilding of Rangers meant seven of his starting XI made their Old Firm debuts and the Hoops players gave them little time to settle with Wes Foderingham having to tip over a fierce strike from Rogic inside the first minute.

– Tempers flared –

Griffiths curled a free-kick wide and then headed over when presented with a free header at the back post as Celtic poured forward.

Rangers were hemmed in but, in their first real attack, they were appealing for a penalty when Alfredo Morelos dramatically went down under a challenge from Jozo Simunovic, but referee Craig Thomson was unimpressed.

The home players slowly adjusted to the pace of the match and a quick breakaway saw Morelos burst down the wing and cut the ball back for Graham Dorrans, who blazed over.

A minute later Morelos was a whisker away from getting on the end of a James Tavernier cross as Rangers gathered momentum.

Tempers flared at half-time as Rangers manager Caixinha and Celtic captain Scott Brown exchanged words in a heated confrontation as the players made their way up the tunnel.

Foderingham had been impressive in the Rangers goal but there was nothing the ‘keeper could do about Celtic’s opener shortly after the interval. 

The Rangers defence failed to clear a corner and a shot from Patrick Roberts landed at the feet of Rogic, who rifled it high into the net from 10 yards.

Caixinha brought on Kenny Miller for the tiring Pena and he made an instant impact.

Miller nodded a Tavernier cross back across goal and only a superb save from Craig Gordon kept out Morelos’s point-blank header.

Just as it looked like Rangers could possibly find a way back into the game, Griffiths struck to break their resolve.

On-loan Manchester City winger Roberts threaded an excellent through ball to the striker, who used his pace to burst behind the Rangers defence and slot low under Foderingham.

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