Rangers sauntered to heavy victory over arch-rivals Celtic at Lennoxtown Training Centre in the Glasgow Cup, coming out 6-1 winners on a wet Wednesday night.
After surviving a brief period of pressure from their hooped opponents, Rangers took control of the match and hat-tricks for Owen McGinty and Matt Yates meant there rivals never had a look in. Celtic’s consolation from Michael Sparkes had given them some semblance of hope at 2-1, but Rangers were far more clinical when it mattered.
The opening quarter of an hour suggested that the home side would have the better of the tie and that they had adapted to the uncomfortable conditions quicker than Rangers, and winger Owen Moffat was dazzling down the right. Jinking past defenders, cutting inside to play inch-perfect through balls and crosses, Moffat was the star of the show early on and had Sparkes and Paul Kennedy provided better finishes to his passes, Celtic may have got the early momentum.
Instead it was Rangers who found the breakthrough a quarter of the way through the game. Captain Cieran Dickson played a neat one-two with Murray Miller that left the Celtic defender forced to foul, and up stepped McGinty to hit a clever free-kick under the wall, deceiving Ryan Mullen in the Celtic goal and nestling in the back of the net.
As quickly as it was one, it was two. McGinty again the scorer but it was all about the pass from Kai Kennedy, allowing him to cut inside and find the target.
Rangers were playing with a speed and purpose that meant although Celtic had the majority of the possession, as soon as a player in blue picked it up he was looking for a forward pass, a ball over the top, a way to outfox the Celtic backline. And it was working.
However, there was no chance Moffat was going to let this game go without a fight. He had taken a few heavy knocks from Rangers players but was still willing to take them on, and beat them more often than not. So it proved just a few minutes after Rangers second as he worked his way into the box, and with the shot on, he smartly rolled the ball across goal for Sparkes to spark what they hoped would be a comeback.
Celtic were certainly reignited by the goal and when Moffat played in Scott Cusick they could almost taste the equaliser, but Lewis Buoinackus made an important stop at his near post.
The importance of the chance was underlined when, minutes before half-time, Yates ghosted in at the back post taking the defence completely unaware to knock home Dickson’s cross and restore the two goal lead.