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Rangers midfielder John Lundstram scored an own goal and was sent off as Celtic took a massive step towards retaining the cinch Premiership title with a 2-1 victory in a Parkhead thriller.

Celtic moved six points and seven goals clear of their city rivals with two matches left and set themselves up to clinch the first silverware of Brendan Rodgers’ second spell in charge at Kilmarnock on Wednesday, if Rangers do not drop points at home to Dundee 24 hours earlier.

A flurry of activity in the final 10 minutes of the first half saw Matt O’Riley and Lundstram put Celtic two up, Cyriel Dessers pull a goal back, and the Gers midfielder receive a red card for a foul on Alistair Johnston.

Celtic's Matt O’Riley celebrates scoring
Celtic’s Matt O’Riley celebrates scoring (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Rangers had struggled to get a grip on O’Riley and Callum McGregor in midfield although they created several chances of their own in an action-packed opening period.

O’Riley missed a penalty as Celtic struggled to finish off the game against 10 men  but the final whistle sparked a party.

Rangers manager Phlippe Clement handed Ben Davies first start of 2024 amid injuries to Connor Goldson and Leon Balogun, while Tom Lawrence replaced Todd Cantwell.

Cantwell had written on social media that a caged bird cannot fly, after being substituted in Rangers’ victory over Kilmarnock, and appeared to have had his wings clipped further by Clement after being left on the bench throughout.

Celtic had Daizen Maeda back in the starting line-up following injury with James Forrest shifting to the right wing. It was only the second time this season that both wingers had started but they set the tone with a blistering start.

Inside the first seven minutes alone, Forrest beat Borna Barisic and saw a low cross scrambled away and twice threatened with left-footed strikes, one of which was tipped over by Jack Butland. Maeda made up five yards to stop James Tavernier’s dangerous attack and soon burst past the Rangers captain and won a corner.

Celtic continued to threaten regularly while Rangers were sporadic in their forays forward.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement could only watch on
Rangers manager Philippe Clement could only watch on (Jane Barlow/PA)

O’Riley curled a free-kick inches outside the post and swept a first-time effort wide from 22 yards from a good chance while McGregor also came close from long range on several occasions.

Fabio Silva was at the centre of Rangers’ best moves, setting up Dujon Sterling to threaten with a header and getting on the end of two chances himself. The winger should have done better with both, dragging a shot wide and heading off target from close range.

Celtic came closer after a good spell of possession when Butland saved well from Kyogo Furhashi.

The breakthrough came in the 35th minute. Forrest fed McGregor’s run down the right channel, the skipper checked and teed up O’Riley, who took a touch and drilled the ball inside the near post from 17 yards.

Celtic were two up soon after the restart when Maeda burst down the wing and delivered a low cross that was turned into his own net by Lundstram. The Japanese attacker continued his run into the front two rows of the Lisbon Lions Stand and took some time to re-emerge from the celebrations.

They were still going when Dessers nodded home from close range after Sterling had headed Barisic’s cross back across goal.

The lifeline was squandered in stoppage-time as Lundstram went overboard with an attempt to intercept a pass to Johnston, sliding in with force from a long way off and catching the full-back on the ankle. Referee Willie Collum showed a yellow card but amended the punishment after being called to his VAR monitor by Steven McLean.

Rangers saw further disruption at the break as John Souttar went off for Ross McCausland with Sterling dropping back into central defence.

Jack Butland's penalty save was unable to change the result
Jack Butland’s penalty save was unable to change the result (Andrew Milligan/PA)

They clung on to hope though as they defended in numbers.

O’Riley saw his penalty saved by Butland after having his heel clipped by Mohamed Diomande, Maeda had two goals disallowed for offside and substitute Nicolas Kuhn was denied by Davies’ block after beating three men.

Rangers waited for an opportunity but McGregor foiled Scott Wright’s counter-attack and Celtic successfully defended some balls into the box before and after home sub Adam Idah missed a sitter in a stoppage-time counter-attack.