The Light Blues played some decent football in the first period and Lee McCulloch, Steven Whittaker, Rhys McCabe and Andrew Little all had reasonable chances to net.

None of those opportunities were taken though and goals from Charlie Mulgrew and Kris Commons had Gers on the back foot at the break.

Gary Hooper scored a third to kill the game as a contest and now attentions turn to the final games of the season against Dundee United, Motherwell and St Johnstone.

This was Celtic’s afternoon as they moved into full gloating mode and despite the openings Rangers made for themselves initially, their rivals deserved to win.

Tomorrow attentions will turn to what the SPL votes for as it considers changes to its rules and the SFA should hear the appeal against the club’s transfer embargo this week too.

In both those instances, there might well be decisions made which go against the Ibrox club as well as the effects of administration continue to be felt.

But after a protest march by up to 10,000 fans to Hampden yesterday, the message at Parkhead from away supporters here was defiant: Rangers will have their day again too.

There have been many difficult occasions for followers of the 54-times Scottish champions to endure in the last couple of months or so and this was undoubtedly one of those.

But with the phenomenal backing they keep giving the club and a united commitment to taking Gers forward again, there will be a way back, no matter how long it takes.

Rangers were impressive in spells as they beat Hearts 3-0 at Tynecastle eight days ago through Sone Aluko’s free kick and a double from Little.

As such, it was no great surprise to see manager Ally McCoist list the same team that featured in Edinburgh and he deployed his men in a flexible 4-3-3 shape once more.

The visitors started comfortably enough, enjoying plenty of early possession without penetrating much.

McCulloch had an early chance after Lee Wallace’s sweeping cross-field pass was chested down to him by Little but the attempt was always rising.

Back came the hosts through Commons, who failed to catch the ball properly and drilled it into the ground before it screwed past the post.

Celtic were beginning to settle but Rangers certainly looked a threat on the counter attack and Whittaker’s header from another Wallace cross was deflected behind for a corner.

When the ball then came in and eventually fell to McCabe, home intervention was once again required to take his drive away from the target.

Gers were growing in confidence and McCabe did well to win possession in midfield before setting Whittaker free.

In turn, he fed Little but his shot from the angle was saved by Fraser Forster – and seconds later that was the cue for the hosts to go in front.

Dorin Goian conceded a corner and when it came in, nobody picked up Mulgrew’s deep run as he charged in to head over the line.

Falling behind was rough on the Light Blues, who had Wallace booked when play restarted for a late challenge on Commons.

They tried to hit back through McCulloch but his glancing header from an Aluko free kick after a comical foul throw by Mulgrew was two feet too high.

Whittaker was also just off range with a smart chest and volley from 18 yards as the away side continued to create the bulk of the chances.

Celtic did respond, with Joe Ledley sending a header over the upright before they went 2-0 up on the half-hour mark.

This time Commons was the scorer, lifting the ball over Allan McGregor after Hooper passed in from the right and Kyle Bartley mistimed his sliding tackle.

Victor Wanyama nearly added a third but McGregor, despite heads visibly dropping in the away ranks, stood up well to his fierce shot and palmed it away.

Despite trailing at the interval, McCoist kept faith with the side he had started with and his men relied on McGregor to make two more fantastic saves to keep the score as it was.

His first stop was a wonderful tip over the bar from Ledley and when the resulting corner came in, he got down well to deny Wanyama.

But there was nothing he could do to stop Hooper from blasting home from 20 yards seconds later and that sealed the hosts’ win.

With that, McCoist threw on the returning Jamie Ness for McCabe as he made his first appearance in almost seven months after a torrid time with injuries.

And if there was one positive for the manager to take from the contest, it was that his young midfielder showed some good touches as he looks to put that nightmare behind him.

For Ness, this game wasn’t too crucial in terms of his long-term career. It’s how the next few months pan out for him that’s far more important.

That’s the case for Gers too and from dark days such as this and those that may very well be imminent, a recovery will begin.

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