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Celtic extend Old Firm streak with win over Gerrard’s Rangers

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Steven Gerrard‘s first taste of the Old Firm Derby is quite sour.

Rangers were well-drilled in its visit to Celtic Park on Sunday, but Olivier Ntcham‘s 62nd minute goal extended Celtic’s unbeaten derby run into an eighth season.

[ MORE: Serie A: Cristiano Ronaldo still scoreless, but Juventus still perfect ]

The match was full of fouls, hard tackles, and struck cross bars, as both teams threatened the goal but Celtic controlled play.

The win moves Celtic to 3-1 on the season, three points back of leaders Hearts. Rangers are now seven points back of first.

Ntcham is a former Man City player, and capped off a tremendous counter attack to put Celtic in front. Tom Rogic started the play on the edge of the Celtic area, and both Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest played parts in setting up Ntcham.

Ryan Christie dove to win a free kick from Connor Goldson on the edge of the 18, but Allan McGregor made an outstanding save to deny Chris Griffith’s solid effort.

Gerrard, Rodgers set for long-awaited first Old Firm clash

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Steven Gerrard and Brendan Rodgers only spent three seasons together while the former played for the latter at Liverpool, but those 36 months were plenty memory — for reasons both good and bad.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview: Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal hit the road ]

The duo — with a bit of help from Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, if memory serves well — nearly won the Premier League title in 2014, but the two reportedly had a falling-out over Gerrard’s role as he approached his 35th birthday the following season. In the end, Rodgers won out as Gerrard left his boyhood club for one an adventure with the LA Galaxy. Rodgers’ victory was short-lived, though, as he was fired five months later.

On Sunday, Gerrard and Rodgers will meet again — only this time, it’ll be as adversaries, each of them pacing the technical area for a Glaswegian giant (7 a.m. ET).

While much will understandably be made of the reunion, Gerrard insists there is no friction between himself and his former manager. He won’t treat Sunday’s showdown at Celtic Park any differently than he would the usual Old Firm derby, which never needs any additional spice added to it in the first place — quotes from the Guardian:

“I think everybody wants there to be a problem. I think they want a UFC match on the side. There’s no problem, [our relationship] is fine.

“I know a lot about him and his tactics. I know how he wants to play but Brendan is a clever coach and always has something up his sleeve. The reason why I respect him as a coach is that he always had something different. I think it would be very naive of me to expect what we see a lot of from the Celtic team. It wouldn’t surprise me if he tried something different to try and catch us cold. That’s what he would do as Liverpool manager.”

Rangers haven’t beaten Celtic in a league game since 2011. Gerrard and Co., have their work cut out for them, to say the least.

Champions League wrap: Celtic bounced; Benfica, Ajax through

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We’re one round away from the group stage following a busy Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Ramos takes shots at Klopp ]

Some big names will not be there, as former champions Celtic failed to get a result in Greece and Fenerbahce could not find a way past Benfica.

Spartak Trnava 1-2 AET (2-3 agg.) Red Star Belgrade

Quite a game, this one.

To start, the second leg saw both sides match the first leg’s result after just seven minutes. The Slovakian hosts scored through Marek Bakos in the 6th minute, but were level when El Fardou Ben Nabouhane scored the next minute.

No goals came over the final 83 minutes, but Nemanja Radonjic bagged a goal for Red Star in the 98th minute to send the Serbians through to the playoff round.

AEK Athens 2-1 (3-2 agg.) Celtic

Brendan Rodgers men have failed to reach the group stage after slipping behind 2-0 in Greece and finding only a Scott Sinclair goal over the final 40 minutes.

Rodgers has publicly criticized the board’s recruitment of players, with some speculating his time could be short at Celtic Park.

But the boss of the top Glaswegian team says the loss wasn’t about the behind the scenes, just poor defending.

“We’ve got to stop the cross for the first and the second is poor defending. We gave ourselves a chance and threw everything at it. I thought a lot of our build-up play was worth something from the game but you can’t defend that softly. I still felt this was a game in which we had more than enough to win but you have to defend better than we did. We gave AEK a lot of problems but you have to defend properly and we didn’t do that.”

Celtic will need to beat the winner of the tie between Latvia’s Spartaks Jurmala and Lithuania’s Suduva Marijampole — Suduva leads 1-0 heading into Thursday’s second leg — for the right to play in the Europa League’s group stage. Those matches are Aug. 23 and 30.

Ajax 3-0 (5-2 agg.) Standard Liege

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag was not content with its two away goal lead, and crushed its Belgian visitors with goals from Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar, Matthijs de Ligt, and David Neres.

MOL Vidi 0-0 (1-1 agg.) Malmo

American midfielder Romain Gall sees his UCL campaign end, an 11-minute substitute performance not enough to help his Swedish visitors to a winner. MOL Vidi — long called Videoton — moves onto the playoff.

Elsewhere
Dynamo Kiev 2-0 (3-1 agg.) Slavia Prague
BATE Borisov 1-1 (2-1 agg.) Qarabag
Spartak Moscow 0-0 (2-3 agg.) PAOK Salonika
Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 (3-0 agg.) FC Astana
Fenerbahce 1-1 (1-2 agg.) Benfica
Shkendija 0-1 (0-4 agg.) RB Salzburg

Playoff round
BATE Borisov vs. PSV Eindhoven
Young Boys vs. Dinamo Zagreb
MOL Vidi vs. AEK Athens
Benfica vs. PAOK Salonika
Ajax vs. Dynamo Kyiv

UEFA Champions League wrap: Ajax, Celtic, Malmo go through

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Third qualifying round match-ups are set for next week following nine UCL second legs on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Kouyate to Palace? ]

Malmo 1-1 (2-1 agg.) CFR Cluj

A 77th minute red card for the visitors short-circuited any hopes for a comeback after Malmo’s Arnor Ingvi Traustason equalized Damjan Dokovic’s opener. USMNT prospect Romain Gall was an unused substitute for Malmo.

Rosenborg 0-0 (1-3 agg.) Celtic

No goals in Norway, but that won’t bother Brendan Rodgers too much as Celtic books two legs with AEK Athens.

SK Sturm Graz 1-3 (1-5 agg.) Ajax

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s brace was sandwiched around Dusan Tadic‘s first goal in an Ajax strip, as the ex-Southampton man helped his new side to a next round date with Standard Liege.

Elsewhere
MOL Vidi 1-0 (1-0 agg.) Ludogorets Razgrad
FC Basel 0-3 (1-5 agg.) PAOK Salonika
Suduva 0-2 (0-5 agg.) Red Star Belgrade
Qarabag 3-0 (3-0 agg.) Kukesi
Midyjylland 0-0 (1-2 agg) Astana
HJK Helsinki 1-2 (1-2 agg.) BATE Borisov

Next week’s third qualifying round
Celtic vs. AEK Athens
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Shkendija
Red Star Belgrade vs. Spartak Trnava
Qarabag vs. BATE Borisov
Astana vs. Dinamo Zagreb
Malmo vs. MOL Vidi
Standard Liege vs. Ajax
Benfica vs. Fenerbahce
Slavia Prague vs. Dynamo Kyiv
PAOK vs. Spartak Moscow

Celtic drubs Rangers to clinch seventh-straight title

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This was a bit like Manchester City was expecting with their derby a few weeks back, and this is a title Celtic won’t forget any time soon, drubbing their hated rivals to clinch another Scottish Premiership title.

[ MORE: Rangers confident of Gerrard hire ]

Celtic beat Rangers 5-0 at Celtic Park in Sunday’s Old Firm Derby, clinching a seventh-straight league title in style.

Rangers are third, 13 points behind their rivals, while Aberdeen is 10 points behind the champions.

Odsonne Eduoard scored twice before James Forrest, Tom Rogic, and Callum McGregor blew the doors off the thing to build a five-goal lead by the 53rd minute.

The win is the 14th-consecutive Old Firm match without a Celtic loss over 90 minutes.

At one point, Celtic defender Mikael Lustig borrowed a police officer’s hat to celebrate a goal.