Football

Glasgow Derby: Celtic Turn Attention To Huge Scottish Premiership Clash Against Rangers

Celtic and Rangers are in the middle of possibly the tightest title race in Scottish football for over a decade. The two giants meet on matchday 32 of the Scottish Premiership 2023-24 season

Celtic celebrate against Livingston.
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John Kennedy feels cool-headed Celtic are getting back to their attacking best in time for next weekend's title showdown with Rangers after they returned to the top of the cinch Premiership with a 3-0 away win over Livingston. (More Football News)

The Hoops were frustrated in a goalless first half, but an own goal from Livi's Jamie Brandon early in the second broke the hosts' resistance before further goals from Paulo Bernardo and Matt O'Riley helped Brendan Rodgers' side climb a point above Gers, who have a game in hand.

“It was very good,” said assistant boss Kennedy, carrying out media duties as manager Brendan Rodgers served a one-match touchline ban.

“As everyone knows, coming here, especially on a day like today when the sun is out and drying the pitch up, it can be difficult.

“But the boys were very good, very professional. We didn't give Livingston very much at all in terms of territory or getting into our box, which is always important here.

“And in our attacking play, we stuck at it. In the first half we could have scored. We got into some great areas and maybe the final ball wasn't there or things got blocked.

“But we showed that calmness, which is important at this time of year. It's easy to get dragged into panic mode and think that you need to go chasing a win, but we stayed with our performance, stayed with doing the same things. 

“We were relentless and eventually it breaks for you. That's what happened and we came out convincing winners.”

Celtic have now scored 20 goals in their last six matches.

With key players like Alistair Johnston, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate all now back in the mix after injury lay-offs, as well as the possibility of captain Callum McGregor returning at Ibrox on Sunday, Kennedy says the Hoops will be heading across Glasgow in confident mood.

“The injuries have hampered us, but the squad are looking good. You see it in training, you sense it in training, the numbers are starting to come back up, the quality's starting to come back in and the standard starts to raise,” said Kennedy.

“Outwith the Hearts game, when we went down to 10 men very early, we'd scored 17 goals in four games and we've scored another three today, so in that respect it's very pleasing.

“Obviously we want to stay on top of our defensive game and not slacken off and, if we do that, we get performances like that where we dominate games and give nothing away. That's always the objective, to have that level of performance.''

Livingston remain 10 points adrift at the foot of the table and boss David Martindale was frustrated at the way his team let things slip away after the break.

“Probably a game of two halves,” he said. “First half, I thought our discipline, our structure, our application was very good and we limited them to very little.

“That was the game plan obviously, albeit I would've liked to have carried a bit more of a threat than we did.

“Then you go out second half and to lose the goal we lost was probably the story of the season, if I'm being honest. Some bad decision-making.”

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