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Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou loved what he saw in ‘outstanding’ win over Rangers

Meanwhile, furious Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst said it looked like his side’s first Old Firm.

Ange Postecoglou celebrating at the final whistle.
Ange Postecoglou celebrating at the final whistle.
Image: PA

ANGE POSTECOGLOU CLAIMED his Celtic side were “everything we wanted to be as a football team” after demolishing Rangers 3-0 to go top of the cinch Premiership.

In a frenetic first half at Parkhead, Reo Hatate marked his Old Firm debut by grabbing a stunning brace before winger Liel Abada added a third from a cross from the Japanese midfielder with Rangers keeper Allan McGregor limiting the damage.

Postecoglou’s men are one point ahead of their fellow Glasgow giants and afterwards he said: “I am really proud of the group. I thought the first half was outstanding, not just the goals we scored but the way we played.

“Their keeper pulled off some great saves and it was everything we wanted to be as a football team.

“Particularly with the context of the game and the opposition because they are a good side.

“They have been on top all year and only lost one game. It’s the same team that won the championship last year. So our performance in the first 45 was outstanding.

“We knew the occasion and magnitude of the game and the consequences. In the second half we had to defend, which I thought we did well again.

“We limited them to shots from outside the box. I am really proud of the players. It was a big occasion, we know that, and I thought they played at a great level.”

With no away fans inside Celtic Park, the former Australia boss acknowledged the raucous atmosphere in favour of the home side.

He said: “I have been pretty lucky, I have had some special experiences in my football career and tonight was right up there.

“From the moment we walked out, the wall of noise, the energy in the stadium was just outstanding.

“From my perspective the anxiety grows because I wanted to repay that, I wanted the players to repay that and they fed off the energy in the right way, they rose to the occasion and gave the fans the kind of performance that the supporters deserve.”

Postecoglou praised Hatate, signed from Kawasaki Frontale in January, albeit he was keen to stress that the victory was a team effort.

He said: “I am being asked about all the players. No-one has exceeded my expectations. I kind of knew what I was getting.

“I don’t want to single anyone out because I thought it was an unbelievable effort from the whole group.

“Reo is not fit enough yet, he has a lot of work to do and still has improvement to do but I knew what I was getting, he is a quality player.

“Tonight he showed his temperament as well because on the big occasion when he needed to he had the quality.

“But he wasn’t the only one. I thought the whole group was outstanding.”

celtic-v-rangers-cinch-premiership-celtic-park Celtic fans in the stands. Source: PA

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst expressed his disbelief at his team’s first-half display at Celtic Park and admitted they looked like they were not ready.

“It seemed like it was the first Old Firm we played,” he told Sky Sports.

“We know what it will bring, the Old Firm, and what you have to do – the environment you go in, the ambience, the pressure you get, everything. But it seemed like we weren’t ready for it.

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“You see the way we gave the goals away, it’s the sharpness, I cannot say otherwise, not going with your man, not being ready for the battles.

“I think it was unbelievable, the first half. Our Old Firm game started in the second half, we were much better and much more aggressive, and we played the second half really well. But the first half we gave the game away.

“For sure it wasn’t something I expected, when I saw the training we had, how focused we were before the game.

“But when the game started, we were just waiting for a goal to be scored. For me that’s impossible.

“We were too naive and we deserved to be 3-0 down the way we played.”

The Dutchman was also stunned to see some of his players, including skipper James Tavernier, appealing for referee Bobby Madden to stop the game for a head knock to Calvin Bassey as Hatate lined up his opening goal.

And he had no complaints about Madden like some of his players.

“It’s a decision for the referee to stop the game,” he said. “We still had the corner to defend. The ball goes out and you have to defend the ball.

“You don’t stop when the ref doesn’t whistle, For me, that was unbelievable to see.”

BTL 5

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