Too many Celtic stars never turned up against Rangers but the biggest battle is still not yet won – Chris Sutton – Chris Sutton

Too many individual battles lost. Too many big players not turning up for the contest.

Celtic need to make sure that Hampden’s performance against Rangers doesn’t happen again. Because there’s a bigger fight still to be won – the Premiership title.

That’s the big picture. The league is absolutely not done and dusted despite what everybody is saying.

And while this might feel like the end of the world after losing a Scottish Cup semi final against Rangers then Celtic can’t waste time picking the bones out of it.

As the old saying goes: If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.

There’s no point getting too down about what happened at Hampden. It was a poor performance and they can’t afford any more in the last five games.

But they need to move on sharpish. If I was in that dressing room I’d be telling everyone to use the motivation of that defeat to make sure they don’t slip up in the league.

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At the start of the season they were written off but now they are a few games away from landing the title which would be an extraordinary achievement.

There are hurdles still to be overcome which will require an improvement from what was on show at Hampden and I’m sure Ange Postecoglou will be working on it right now with a massive trip to Ross County just six days away.

Celtic were flat. Rangers won more duels, more head to head battles, that was the difference.

The biggest disappointment was Celtic’s lack of creativity in the final third.

There was more than enough talent on the park to hurt Rangers but nobody took on the challenge.

This team is all about being brave on the ball and quick with the passing but it never happened. Rangers smothered them and Celtic couldn’t get up the pitch.

Tom Rogic has a good record against Rangers but was kept quiet. I would have expected more from Jota, Liel Abada and Reo Hatate as well.

Giorgos Giakoumakis was a big miss to help them get up the pitch and it’s really important they get him back ASAP.

He has been really influential in recent weeks but this was a chance for others to grab the headlines and unfortunately nobody did.

I thought Callum McGregor played well. Cameron Carter-Vickers was his usual excellent self in defense although he missed the huge chance to finish Rangers off at 1-0.

Other than that? Daizen Maeda was a one-man closing down machine again and worked his socks off but the service into him wasn’t great. Joe Hart did okay.

But nobody else really stepped up for Celtic especially in a creative sense which is a concern.

Having said all that, was I surprised by the end result? Not really.

I said beforehand they are two closely matched teams and this time Rangers were simply the better side.

They pressed high and while there was a lot of talk about them being tired and leggy after Thursday night, I never bought it.

Rangers have lost the last two games against Celtic pretty convincingly so they were never going to be short of energy as they looked to stop it becoming three.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side pressed the life out of Celtic and won the midfield which might be a concern for Postecoglou. They stopped Rogic playing which was crucial after the Aussie’s performance at Ibrox.

Jon McLaughlin came in in goal but how many saves did he have to make? None and that tells the story really.

But as I said it wasn’t a total surprise as, just like when I played, both sides have players that can hurt each other. This time it was Rangers who stepped up.

You can’t argue with Ange’s starting XI. Some reckon Kyogo should have been in from the start but he sees him every day in training and is a better judge than anyone to say if he is fit to start.

There’s no getting away from the fact Bobby Madden turned in one of the worst refereeing performances I’ve seen in Scotland for a long time.

I had a shocker. Some of his decisions and thought processes of him were baffling.

But it’s not the reason Celtic ended up losing and Postecoglou will know that.

This one was down to too many important players not turning up.

They simply have to close the door on this, move on and blow away Ross County next weekend.

That’s the best way to get this out of the system and would be another huge step towards the title.

Then it’s Rangers back at Parkhead and a chance to show that they are top of the table for a reason and won’t be budged.

The bigger picture is that Ange Postecoglou has worked wonders this season to get Celtic where they are and it needs one more big push to get over the line and deliver the title.

Do that and the disappointment from Hampden will be long forgotten.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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