Victory in the final Old Firm game of the season, a match which had been dubbed the Dead Rubber Derby beforehand, will not make amends for finishing the season trophyless.

But Rangers, who finally ended a six game winless run against Celtic at Ibrox this afternoon thanks to first-half goals from Todd Cantwell and John Souttar and a Fashion Sakala strike in the second, enjoyed this 3-0 triumph and then some all the same.

There will be change in Govan this summer as manager Michael Beale embarks on what he has described as the biggest squad overhaul in years.

But this comfortable and richly-deserved victory eased the pressure on the Englishman, who lost three and drawn one of his first four meetings with the defending Scottish champions, considerably and gave supporters hope that better times may lie ahead in the 2023/24 campaign and beyond.

The Herald:

There was nothing other than pride at stake for Celtic, who retained the Scottish title with four games to spare last Sunday and did not field their strongest side, so they will not be overly despondent at the outcome.

Not having any supporters in the 50,104-strong crowd due to an ongoing dispute over ticket allocations and security protocols gave their hosts a distinct advantage.

Still, the loss meant that Ange Postecoglou’s men cannot record a record points total of 107 in the league this term.

The Greek-Australian coach, whose charges can complete their fifth treble in seven years if they beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden next month, will be eager to oversee an improvement in the next three league matches.   

READ MOREJota hit by objects from Rangers stands in Celtic clash

Rangers edged in front in just the fifth minute when Joe Hart palmed a powerful John Lundstram attempt straight to the feet of Cantwell. The playmaker fired through the legs of the Celtic goalkeeper before jumping over the advertising hoardings to celebrate with his team’s delirious fans.

The visitors responded immediately. Reo Hatate and Liel Abada linked well to supply Oh Hyeon-gyu and the striker hit the post. Celtic were soon dominating possession. They created a few half-chances without greatly troubling Robby McCrorie. Lundstram did well to block a Liel Abada shot.  

Their opponents made them pay for their lack of a cutting edge in the final third in the 34th minute when Souttar outmuscled Yuki Kobayashi at a James Tavernier corner and bulleted home a header to open his account for Rangers.  

A mix-up involving Callum McGregor and Carl Starfelt after half-time enabled Sakala to put the result beyond doubt.

What does it all mean long-term for Rangers? Should Celtic be concerned? Here are five talking points from events in Govan.


Cantwell has quickly become a darling of the Rangers support since moving from Norwich City in January – and something of a hate figure for Celtic fans.

His comments after the 3-2 defeat at Parkhead last month – he took to Instagram to claim that Postecoglou’s team “didn’t win it” and argue that Beale’s side “lost the game” -  provoked quite a response from devotees of the Scottish champions.

The Herald:

But the midfielder can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. He did well to break the deadlock early on, very nearly bagged a brace on a couple of occasions in the second-half, performed with aggression, energy and invention throughout and picked up the Man of the Match award at the final whistle.

He promises to be a key player for Beale next term on this evidence.   


The Scotland centre half has endured a difficult time since joining Rangers on a free transfer from Hearts last summer; he spent seven months out with an ankle injury after starting in the opening Premiership match against Livingston at Almdonvale in July.

The 26-year-old has, a misplaced passback against Celtic at Parkhead last month aside, impressed since returning to the fray in March. Scoring his first goal for the Ibrox club this afternoon was a sweet moment for him and will have increased his confidence further.

READ MORERangers vs Celtic ref watch as big Steven McLean calls analysed

The defender has a chance of winning a recall to the national squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Norway and Cyprus next month if he maintains his current form.  


Beale made two changes to the starting line-up which had edged out Aberdeen six days earlier; Souttar replaced the injured Ben Davies at centre half while Ryan Jack came in for Ianis Hagi in central midfield.

That meant that goalkeeper McCrorie, left back Ridvan Yilmaz and left winger Rabbi Matondo, a trio with limited experience of the world-famous fixture, retained their places.

The Herald:

McCrorie had kept a clean sheet in the game at the start of last season. Yilmaz and Matondo had both come off the bench in the second-half of the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat at Hampden last month. Other than that, though, they had not featured against Celtic.

Would they rise to the occasion? McCrorie did well to get off his line quickly and force Oh to shoot onto his post shortly after the opener and then tip a Matt O’Riley chip over his crossbar after half-time. Matondo was lively and direct and tested Hart with a couple of long-range piledrivers. Yilmaz gave Tony Ralston a torrid afternoon.  

Beale will strengthen his squad this summer. There will be up to a dozen players departing and as many coming in. But McCrorie, Yilmaz and Matondo showed him this afternoon they have much to offer going forward.


Postecoglou had admitted he was keen to give individuals who were not regular starters experience of what he described as a unique situation at his pre-match press conference. He was probably eager to give a couple of players a bit of a rest as well.

So Alexandro Bernabei was preferred to Greg Taylor at left back, Liel Abada took over from Daizen Maeda out wide and Oh was given the nod ahead of Kyogo Furuhashi. Celtic played well for long spells. But they were not quite the same force.  

READ MORECeltic have outspent Rangers by £50m - Michael Beale needs big money

Their manager will not be too perturbed. But he will have to address the failings at the  back which allowed Rangers to score three goals – nobody reacted quickly enough before Cantwell pounced for the first, Yuki Kobayashi was batted aside for the second and the third was a comedy of errors – and sharpen things up in attack before the cup final.  


Beale was looking to avoid history, not make it, today.

No Rangers manager had lost four consecutive Old Firm games since Alex McLeish did so back in 2004.

Furthermore, the 2003/04 and 2016/17 are the only seasons in which the Ibrox club have lost five times to their Parkhead rivals in a single campaign in major competitions. He was, then, hoping not to make it a hat-trick.  

Failure to pick up all three points, too, would have seen him join Graeme Murty as the only man in his position who had failed to win his first five derbies in the modern era

But he got his team selection and tactics spot on and went an awfully long way towards silencing his doubters.