Football: Celtic enjoy clean air

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The Independent Online
A midweek no-holds-barred, clear-the-air meeting helped Celtic shake up the race for the Scottish championship with their stunning 2- 0 win against Rangers on Friday.

Craig Burley, one of the two scorers, revealed that the midweek get-together, following last week's defeat by St Johnstone, had paved the way for the win, which sparked a night of massive East End celebrations in Glasgow and brought Celtic within one point of Rangers. Burley, who headed back to his homeland from Chelsea in the summer, said: "We had a meeting during the week after that defeat by St Johnstone, and a few harsh words were said.

"The players were there and the management team. Wim Jansen [the head coach] is one of the quietest men I have worked with. But last week was the angriest I have seen him. We got criticised heavily, but you can't bounce back better than that."

He added: "It's a magnificent feeling for all the boys and everyone involved in the club, but we've got to go on from this performance now."

Burley opened the scoring after 66 minutes, steering the ball beyond the goalkeeper Andy Goram after a delightful reverse pass from Jackie McNamara. Paul Lambert wrapped things up five minutes from time to give Celtic their first league victory in 11 Old Firm matches after substitute Darren Jackson's thunderbolt had only been partially cleared. Lambert, the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder, blasted an unstoppable shot into the net via a post from 20 yards.

That sealed an emphatic and deserved victory for Celtic, who could have been three ahead before Burley's goal.

For Jansen it was success at the third attempt, and he said the 1-0 November defeat at Ibrox told him how to approach the match - by playing Rangers at their own game. "We know the system they like to play," he said. "So we wanted to play pretty much the same way with an extra man up front and it worked.

"I'm delighted with the way we played, especially in the second half when from the first minute of that half we put them under pressure. I feel the way we played today can give us confidence. I reckon we played better as the match progressed and dominated the game."

The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, insisted he had "no complaints" about having to taste league defeat for only the second time this term. He said: "I'm disappointed but have no complaints in the sense that Celtic won the match in the one period of the game one of the teams gained the upper hand. The 20- to 25-minute spell after half-time was when they won it and we lost it after we had started the game well."