MIKAEL Lustig happily twisted the knife further into Rangers by suggesting their players cheered being drawn against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final because it guaranteed them more time off this summer.

Graeme Murty probably thought he was doing the right thing when he revealed the reaction in the Ibrox dressing room the moment they were paired with their old rivals. It has backfired and then some.

Even the Celtic’s official website yesterday tweeted “be careful what you wish for” in response to the Rangers team’s apparent delight of another Old Firm game. This was a tenth derby game without the men from Ibrox wining a single one of them.

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And, on television, Scott Brown said: "They can cheer as much as they want, but I don't think they'll be cheering tonight."

Lustig is not one for going out of his way to create a headline but when asked, justifiably, for his thoughts on it all, he said: “I didn’t really react to be honest. But they probably knew they were going to get some extra days off and get an extra holiday, that’s probably why they were cheering.” Ouch.

Celtic won 4-0 without bringing their A-game to Hampden. They were very good, don’t get me wrong, they dominated Rangers in a Scottish Cup semi-final and, at the same time, had so much more in the tank.

Asked where this ranked in his wins over Rangers, Lustig said: “There have been plenty of them, to be fair. Like I said before the game, though, we like to play here. Rangers couldn’t find a way to do something against us.

“Obviously there was a lot of talk. But we stay calm, we’re humble and we do our talking on the pitch and we’ve won again.

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“Yes, I think it must be damaging [to the Rangers players]. From the start we showed we wanted to play football. Moussa Dembele had one off the post in the first couple of minutes.”

That wasn’t cheek. It was reality. Celtic did find it easy, far too easy, against a Rangers team who need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Now, Lustig and his team-mates are a win over Motherwell away from history. If Celtic don’t wrap up the title next weekend, then they will do so against Rangers at Parkhead. Then victory in the Scottish Cup final would bring them unprecedented successive trebles.

A player who has emerged as a real star of this Celtic team is Olivier Ntcham who scored with a penalty and, along with Brown, made the Rangers midfield anonymous to the point of invisible.

The Frenchman, still only 22, said: “The performance said a lot about the team. We were very positive and focused. I don’t know if it was a big statement but it was a big result for the club.

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“There was a big gap today but the third game was difficult for us. We won 3-2 but it was tough with 10 men for so long. Every game is different.

“I am happy to be part of this season and I would love to be part of a side that wins the Treble. I wasn’t involved in the first cup win this season so it would be nice to be part of this one. The important thing is for the team to win.

“I feel good playing for Celtic and I have a lot of confidence because I am playing a lot of football. I don’t know if today was my best performance, maybe, maybe not, but I know I can always improve. There is more to come from me.

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“You could say Celtic are like the Manchester City of Scotland. Celtic is Celtic though. I hope to win the league here, that’s the most important thing, as well as winning the derbies. I am happy for Manchester City as well.

“It was good to score. I was the second taker so I was always going to hit that penalty, I wasn’t tempted to chip it like Moussa though – no way! I was pleased to score and I enjoyed the game. It would be an amazing feeling to go on and win the trophy.”

Ntcham thanked Brendan Rodgers for signing him last summer and his captain. The partnership he has built with Brown is impressive. Rangers did not know how to cope with their strength and intelligence.

The Frenchman said: “He is a great manager. I am happy to work with him and I think he’s happy to work with me. He always pushes us in training. It was a great decision to come to Celtic as he has improved me a lot as a player, with and without the ball. He’s helped my all-round game.

“Scott Brown is a great player. He’s so strong mentally, players always want to kick him. They get yellow cards, sometimes, like today, they get a red card.”