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The Bhoys avenged their 3-2 loss at Ibrox last month as they comfortably defeated their great rival in front of a buoyant home crowd on Sunday afternoon.

Celtic recorded an easy win over Rangers, as goals from Charlie Mulgrew, Kris Commons and Gary Hooper extended the lead the club has over its great rival at the top of the league.

It was a thoroughly dominant win, in what could yet prove to be the last Old Firm clash for several years, as the Ibrox club’s financial predicament threatens its SPL future.

Celtic made five changes from the side that won 3-0 at Motherwell last week, with Fraser Forster, Adam Matthews, Glenn Loovens, Georgios Samaras and captain Scott Brown returning to the Celtic lineup. Youngster Adam Watt, who scored twice in that win at Fir Park last weekend, was on the bench.

Rangers were unchanged from the clash with Hearts last week, with Northern Irish striker Kyle Lafferty missing after being suspended for two weeks by manager Ally McCoist for refusing to travel on the team coach to the game in Edinbrough.

Celtic’s jubilant crowd was in fine voice from the start, as the club looked to avenge the 3-2 defeats at Ibrox in the last Old Firm derby last month.

After a cagey opening 10 minutes, it was the visiting side which had the first chance in the 15th minute as Steven Whittaker and Andy Little linked up well, with the latter forcing a comfortable save from Fraser Forster.

But a minute later the game really burst into life as Celtic defender Mulgrew found himself in acres of space to power home a downward header from a corner to give the home side the lead.

The Gers bounced back with a few half-chances though Lee McCulloch and Steven Whittaker, but just after the half hour mark the Hoops deservedly doubled the lead.

Gary Hooper did well down the right side, and slid a ball through for Commons who coolly chipped over the onrushing Alan McGregor for his first goal of the season.

Rangers struggled to get a foothold in the game and if anything the home side looked more likely to grab a third and almost did, as McGregor was forced into a decent save from Victor Wanyama.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon – sitting in the stands following his two-match touchline ban for abusing the referee in his side’s Scottish Cup semifinal defeat to Hearts – will have been delighted with the first-half performance of his team as it went into the break with a 2-0 lead.

The second period started off in much the same vein and McGregor once again had to be at full stretch to tip over a volley from Joe Ledley.

But just a minute later Celtic did get another goal.

Samaras won the ball in the visitor’s half and drove forward before slotting a through ball to Hooper, who fired high past the helpless McGregor.

At this point it looked like a rout could be on the cards, but the home side took its foot off the throttle, and was happy to see the game out.


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