Beale celebrates first Old Firm triumph as Rangers thrash Celtic 3-0. Rangers crushed Celtic 3-0 at Ibrox to give Michael Beale his maiden victory over the Hoops as Gers boss.
Todd Cantwell opened the scoring for the hosts after a frantic start with a low shot that went through Joe Hart’s legs in the fifth minute. John Souttar, who was back from injury, doubled the lead with a header from a corner in the 34th minute, scoring his first goal in a Light Blues shirt.
Fashion Sakala sealed the win with 20 minutes left, capitalising on a defensive mix-up to round Hart and slot into an empty net. It was Beale’s first win in five attempts against Celtic since he replaced Giovanni van Bronckhorst in November and it snapped Celtic’s 34-game domestic unbeaten streak – although Ange Postecoglou’s men are still on track for a domestic treble, with the Scottish Cup final against Inverness from the Championship looming on June 3.
The result was more of a consolation for Beale and Rangers, who had already seen Celtic clinch the cinch Premiership title and the ViaPlay Cup earlier in the season.
The teams were announced before the game and Souttar came in for Ben Davies, who was injured, while Ryan Jack returned to midfield and Rabbi Matondo and Sakala formed the front pair, with Robby McCrorie keeping his place in goal ahead of Allan McGregor.
Postecoglou made three changes, bringing in Alexandro Bernabei for Greg Taylor, Oh Hyeon-gyu for Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada for Daizen Maeda.
There were no away fans in the ground due to “safety and security” issues, as was the case when Rangers visited Celtic Park in April, and the hosts got off to a flying start with Cantwell’s goal. Celtic almost responded immediately when Abada set up Oh, who chipped McCrorie but hit the post and Rangers cleared.
Matondo had a chance to break away but his shot from distance was easily held by Hart.
The home fans cheered their team on but Celtic were dominating possession, only to concede again when Souttar shrugged off Yuki Kobayashi to head home Tavernier’s corner.
Celtic appealed for a penalty when Connor Goldson fell on the ball with his hand but referee Steven McLean waved play on.
Celtic came close to pulling one back early in the second half when O’Riley dispossessed Jack but his lob was superbly tipped over by McCrorie and Rangers dealt with the corner.
Rangers then threatened again when Hart pushed Cantwell’s drive round the post, and then saved another attempt from him – although McLean wrongly gave a goal kick.
Celtic’s misery was compounded when Sakala pounced on a miscommunication between Carl Starfelt and Callum McGregor to race clear, beat Hart and score into an empty net. The win gave Beale some relief as he prepares to overhaul his squad for next season, while Celtic’s progress under Postecoglou was halted for now.