Sport

Mikael Lustig hails crucial Craig Gordon save in Celtic's Old Firm win

Celtic's keeper Craig Gordon saves from Alfredo Morelos of Rangers during Saturday's Old Firm derby
By Andy Newport

Ladbrokes Premiership: Rangers 0 Celtic 2

CELTIC defender Mikael Lustig has hailed keeper Craig Gordon for the save that kept the Hoops on course for Old Firm victory.

Brendan Rodgers' Ladbrokes Premiership champions were made to work by Rangers during a compelling first 45 minutes at Ibrox on Saturday.

But goals from Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths after the break wrapped up a 2-0 win that took the Parkhead side's incredible domestic unbeaten run past the 500-day mark.

However, Swedish defender Lustig admits the result could have been so different had it not been for Gordon's intervention.

Former Hoops striker Chris Sutton has been a vocal critic of the Scotland number one's displays for both club and country in recent months.

But he proved his quality with an instinctive save to stop Alfredo Morelos levelling for Gers with a point-blank ranger header just moments after Rogic's opener.

"Maybe Rangers had a short two or three minute spell just after we scored but after that we were really comfortable," right-back Lustig told CelticTV.

"Craig made a top-drawer save to keep it at 1-0. You need a really good keeper in these games and we have got that in Craig.

"His save was vital. Maybe had they gone to 1-1 it could have been a different game.

"But from that moment one we proved we're the best team again."

Victory over the Light Blues – their sixth from seven clashes since Rodgers was appointed last year – was the perfect warm-up performance for Celtic as they prepare to Wednesday's Champions League clash with Anderlecht.

The Hoops got their group-stage campaign off to a nightmare start two weeks ago as they were hammered 5-0 by French giants Paris St Germain.

But Lustig hopes they can follow up their derby triumph with another win which will put them in the box seat for a Europa League slot.

He said: "We know it's a massive game on Wednesday, especially as we were not satisfied with the game against PSG.

"We want to be in Europe [after New Year] so hopefully we can grab some points and play some good football."

Meanwhile, James Tavernier has backed boss Pedro Caixinha's claims that Rangers have a special talent on their hands with Ross McCrorie.

The 19-year-old was plunged into a baptism of fire as he made his first Light Blues start during Saturday's Old Firm clash with Celtic.

And while there was disappointment for Gers as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat, McCrorie offered some hope for the future with an impressive derby bow.

His display was no surprise to Caixinha, who declared last week he would have no hesitation throwing the teenager in for injured Euro 2016 winner Bruno Alves.

He said following his second-half substitute run-out against Partick Thistle on Tuesday: "Ross McCrorie is going to be one of the best centre-halves in history, not just for this club but for this country."

Now after watching his young colleague shackle Hoops frontman Leigh Griffiths for much of the match, Tavernier says he agrees.

"I thought young Ross had a cracking game for his first Old Firm," said the Ibrox right-back. "He didn't look out of place.

"Ross works hard in training and did really well in the pre-season games and coming on against Partick.

"Today he showed great signs of being a promising young player. As long as he keeps his head down and works hard, he'll be a cracking centre back."

Alves was ruled out of the opening derby clash of the campaign after suffering a calf tear during the Ibrox side's Betfred Cup win over Thistle.

Caixinha's men now trail Brendan Rodgers' relentless league leaders by eight points and the Rangers boss will be desperate to have his veteran centre-back in time for Friday's trip to Hamilton.

Alves has jetted out to Spain to have his injury assessed by the same medics who treat Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

But if his Portugal team-mate Alves fails to recover, Caixinha insists he has a more-than-able deputy in Scotland U21 cap McCrorie.

He said: "Bruno has a Grade One on his calf so he's doing an intensive programme with Cristiano Ronaldo's physio in Madrid.

"He started on Friday and we hope to have him back on Monday to do tests to see if he's able to play next Friday.

"But McCrorie is a player I don't have doubts about. I like Ross a lot and did really well.

"He didn't shake and didn't fail the test. That's his mentality. He did his job okay on Saturday."

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