RANGERS lost the first Old Firm of the season after Moussa Dembele netted a hat-trick for Celtic.
Mark Warburton’s side had fallen two goals behind in the first–half before Joe Garner snatched one back when he scrambled a header over the line just before the break.
Scott Sinclair grabbed a third for the home side on the hour mark before Dembele rounded off his treble on 83 minutes.
In between the Gers had lost both their centre-halves, first Rob Kiernan to injury and then Philippe Senderos to a red card. Meaning Rangers finished the final 15 minutes of the game with 10 men. Stuart Armstrong added a fifth inside injury time.
Rangers had an early warning when they were forced to spring into action with seven minutes gone – Tom Rogic creating a double of chances on the bounce. First he lashed one at Lee Wallace’s back and the rebound cannoned into his path as Wes Foderingham re-adjusted himself. His follow up shot span wide of the upright though so the keeper needn’t have worried.
Despite a lively opening to the game neither side had really created much in front of goal. Niko Kranjcar tried one from distance on 14 minutes but it was always climbing and landed amongst the fans.
It was a get out of jail card for the Gers when Lee Wallace elected to pass across his own box to Joey Barton two minutes later. The midfielder played it back to Foderingham but the keeper wasn’t in the goalmouth and could only watch on in relief as the ball trickled past the post and out.
Rogic did much the same as Kranjcar had at the other end when Kieran Tierney outwitted James Tavernier to ping a ball off the by-line to the edge of the box. The 23-year-old blazed over.
Willie Collum was called into action just before the half hour mark when first Barton and then Joe Garner went down clutching their heads, the striker’s incident happening off the ball. The referee chose not to dish any cards out though as the pair clambered to their feet to continue.
With 32 minutes gone Scott Sinclair found space down the left on a tight angle, Foderingham made himself big and the ball bounced off his torso and out for a corner. A corner that would result in Celtic’s opener.
The winger turned provided and curled the set-piece onto the head of Moussa Dembele who rose highest to plant a headed into the back of the net.
The home side broke quickly from the restart with James Forrest tearing down the right to cut a ball across goal. A goal mouth scrambled ensued as Foderingham dropped the ball and Rogic managed to get a shot away but Wallace cleared the danger.
The visitors responded and Josh Windass won a free-kick in a promising area moments later but the Light Blues couldn’t create an opening from it. And then Demeble got his second two minutes before the break.
Nir Bitton threaded a cute ball through the Gers defence to play in the forward. He by-passed Philippe Senderos to curl the ball beyond Foderingham with the outside of his right boot.
Rangers took just a minute to nick one back through Garner and give them hope going into half-time. Windass skipped through the middle to spray the ball onto the right flank for Tavernier. The right-back played a superb ball over the top into the back post where Kenny Miller was waiting. The striker nodded across the face of goal and Garner was there in the middle to scramble it over the line and beyond Dorus de Vires.
With Kranjcar making way for Andy Halliday at the break it was an altered Rangers that went into the second-half. With seven minutes of it gone Windass tapped the ball out to Tavernier who’s clipped cross found its way to McKay lurking on the left of the box. The winger shaped up a shot but his effort sailed beyond the far post.
Celtic broke a couple of moments later and Forrest sent a side-footed shot goalwards from the right which Foderingham did well to hold.
On the hour mark the home side had their third through Sinclair. Dembele was allowed room in the middle to turn in space and run at the Gers defence. He threaded the ball between Kiernan and Senderos and Sinclair was waiting on the other side to slide the ball under the outstretched Foderingham.
With Kiernan limping off injured the Gers new look defence was immediately called into action on 72 minutes and Foderingham pulled off a superb double save. First Armstrong whipped a strike from outside the box and he did well to palm the ball away. It was straight into the path of Dembele who shot from a tight angle and the keeper recovered quickly parried the ball out of play.
Three minute later, with one centre-half already off injured, Rangers lost Senderos to a red card after he picked up a second yellow for hand ball. Down to 10 men and chasing a 3-1 deficit Warburton’s side had a mountain to climb.
It was the turn of the foot of Foderingham to save from Dembele with 11 minutes left to play. Sinclair played a quick ball to the forward who tried to sneak one in from the angle. And he was forced into a near carbon copy of the save as the game entered the final stages and Armstrong tried to place one into the bottom corner.
Celtic did get their fourth though when Mikael Lustig played a ball over the top into Dembele. The striker took one touch before firing beyond Foderingham for his hat-trick. Armstrong had been threatening and struck in stoppage time to side foot the ball between post and keeper for five.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan (Forrester 72’), Senderos, Wallace; Barton, Kranjcar (Halliday 45’), Windass; McKay, Miller (Waghorn 63’), Garner.
Subs not used: Gilks, Hill, Hodson, O’Halloran
Goals: Garner 44’
Yellows: Kranjcar 27’, Senderos 63’
Reds: Senderos 75’
CELTIC: de Vries, Toure, Bitton, Brown (McGregor 74’), Dembele, Sinclair, Rogic (Armstrong 53’), Lustig, Sviatchenko, Forrest (Roberts 63’), Tierney
Subs not used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Gamboa
Goals: Dembele 33’ 43’ 83’, Sinclair 60’, Armstrong 90+1’
Yellows: Bitton 7’, Toure 49’