Sacre bleu. Paul Le Guen's Old Firm initiation went the familiar way of those before him as Rangers failed yet again at Parkhead, allowing Celtic to open up a seven-point lead over their fiercest rivals at the top of the Scottish Premier League. The Frenchman's first taste of Glasgow's intense rivalry echoed his predecessors, Alex McLeish and Dick Advocaat. Celtic's own derby debutants fared far better, as Thomas Gravesen and Kenny Miller chose their Old Firm baptism to inscribe their first goals for the club.
Rangers have now won once in the last 16 visits across the city in a sequence going back six years. Gordon Strachan described this as the "best Old Firm game I've witnessed" in terms of open football, but that will be of little consolation to Le Guen or the Rangers fans. The manager heard the club's owner, David Murray, tell the AGM this week that there is "no pot of gold" to spend on players. Strachan, in contrast, saw his summer signings step up to the plate. Indeed, Miller came back to haunt his old club by ending his much-publicised drought by finding the net for the first time in 16 games since Strachan brought him back from Molineux.
Later Le Guen's sang-froid disappeared as his English momentarily deserted him and he spoke of there being no "miracle". "I knew before I came here that the job would be hard. Celtic are the best team in Scotland."
Celtic can now look forward to a Champions' League contest with FC Copenhagen on Tuesday and Gravesen's goal 10 minutes before the interval was the moment that ensured his compatriots would be facing a raucous Parkhead overflowing with feel-good factor. The Dane was actually caught dwelling on the ball on several occasions in the first half. However, Celtic had looked like the most likely team to break the deadlock, with Miller's deft eighth-minute lob over Allan McGregor going narrowly wide before the keeper beat out a venomous shot from Shunsuke Nakamura.
When McGregor pawed away Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink's dipping shot, the writing was on the wall. Celtic read the script and Neil Lennon'scross was met by Aiden McGeady, whose header drew a superb reaction from McGregor, only for Gravesen to head the rebound over the line.
Rangers could have restored parity five minutes into the second half had the Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc not sprinted to the edge of his box to deny Barry Ferguson. Le Guen's team then put together their best period of play with Libor Sionko and Kris Boyd both volleying wide but they were carved open by a ruthless Celtic counterattack in the 74th minute.
The architect was the impressive McGeady, who ran 60 yards from his own box before threading a pass into the path of Miller, who stayed onside and then advanced into the box and steered a composed finish beyond McGregor. Miller's celebration run told its own story, as he was engulfed by fans, colleagues and then his manager.Reuse content