Neil Lennon has tasted defeat at Ibrox for the first time as Celtic manager after Rangers triumphed 4-2 in the opening Old Firm derby game of the season.
Celtic’s week went from bad to worse when they followed Thursday’s night’s Europa League loss away to Atletico Madrid with this derby downturn.
The Bhoys had defender Charlie Mulgrew sent-off in the 75th minute for a second bookable offence in a poor finish to another keenly contested game between these two great rivals.
Just to rub salt in Lennon’s wounds, captain Scott Brown was forced off with a re-occurrence of his ankle injury and looks set to spend weeks on the sidelines.
It was all so different for Lennon and Brown at half-time in Ibrox after the skipper inspired goals from Gary Hooper and Badr El-Kaddouri that helped the visitors to a 2-1 interval lead.
Stephen Naismith opened and closed the scoring for the Gers with Nikica Jelavic and Kyle Lafferty also on target in a punishing second period.
Lennon was clearly angered by his team’s second-half performance and almost questioned their commitment after the defeat.
“I am angry, full stop, with our overall performance,” said manager Lennon afterwards. I wouldn’t like to question their character but I had to ask that after the game.
“I don’t know if there was any fatigue from the game on Thursday night against Atletico Madrid but we were second best a lot of the time and in games of this calibre you have to be physical, you have to win second balls, you have to battle and scrap and there was not a lot of that on show in the second-half.
“We didn’t compete and it was almost as if the players went out for the second-half thinking the game was already won.”