An inspired performance saw Rangers move top of the Scottish Premier League standings as they beat Celtic 4-2 in the first Old Firm derby of the new campaign at Parkhead on Sunday, which saw both teams go down to 10 men.
Neither side were able to stamp their authority during the opening 30 minutes, but the game burst into life shortly after the half-hour mark as Daniel Cousin produced a breath-taking run into the box, and after leaving his defender for dead he coolly out-foxed Artur Boruc to slot home from a tight angle.
But the lead lasted just two minutes as the Hoops took control of the ball in the middle of the park, and some quick passing allowed Georgios Samaras space, and the striker made no mistake to send his shot past Allan McGregor and into the back of the net.
The second-half began the way the first had ended, and Walter Smith’s men regained the lead within seven minutes of the restart as Kenny Miller produced a text-book volley at the far-post to silence the Celtic Park-faithful.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Celtic players, but Rangers remained as sharp as ever and were soon 3-1 up as Pedro Mendes unleashed an incredible 25-yard drive which bulged the back of the net before the Bhoys ‘keeper even had a chance to see it.
But the afternoon was slightly marred as Cousin turned from hero to villain and was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence, and just one minute later Celtic were also down to 10-men as Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.
The commotion seemed to totally unsettle Boruc, and after failing to deal with a routine catch he fumbled the ball and Miller was on hand to sneak home his second and Rangers’ fourth.
The hosts did manage to pull a late goal back through Shunsuke Nakamura, but it would prove only a consolation.