Rangers underlined their status as the Scottish Premiership’s dominant side with a third Old Firm derby victory of the season against 10-man Celtic.
The game sprang to life with three goals and a red card for Celtic’s Callum McGregor within seven first-half minutes.
The midfielder saw red after Kemar Roofe’s opener, but Odsonne Edouard levelled before Alfredo Morelos smashed the champions back ahead, Roofe added his second and Jermain Defoe slid in a late fourth.
The victory means Rangers are two games away from an unbeaten league campaign, which would match their city rivals’ feat of 2016-17.
Celtic are already sure of second spot but trail their rivals by a galling 23 points, and have gone a full season without winning a derby for the first time since 1999-2000.
It was a sobering end to Celtic captain Scott Brown’s 14-year association with this fixture as the midfielder – who is joining Aberdeen next season – was replaced on the hour.
The reversal of supremacy in Glasgow football has been evident for some time now, given Rangers’ canter to a first league title for 10 years.
As a result, this was as close as you could get to a meaningless match between the sides, with the prospect of ruining Rangers’ unbeaten league run the only real boon for Celtic.
John Kennedy’s side have, at times, had the better of the play in the last three derbies, but Rangers have shown far more capable of stepping up in big moments, and so it proved here.
Goalkeeper Allan McGregor – outstanding all season – produced another terrific stop by touching Mohamed Elyounoussi’s shot on to the crossbar, an intervention which ultimately led to the opening goal.
Rangers went up the other end, Ryan Kent’s shot flew in front of Roofe, who showed fantastic presence of mind to divert the ball into the net with his chest.
As the Rangers players ran to celebrate their goal, Celtic’s McGregor was remonstrating with referee Nick Walsh, having been shown a second yellow inside three minutes for scything down Glen Kamara in the build-up.
From that moment, it looked ominous for the visitors, but Edouard nodded in after Kristoffer Ajer’s knock-down at a corner to provide an almost instant riposte and keep the game alive and intriguing.
But a symptom of the turnaround in these sides’ fortunes is the ability of one to go about their business with ruthless efficiency, while the other lacks conviction in every department.
Morelos demonstrated this perfectly as he jinked inside Brown before thumping the ball past a flailing Scott Bain and high into the net to restore Rangers’ supremacy.
It was a position that Gerrard’s side never looked like relinquishing, with diving headers from David Turnbull and Elyounoussi as close as Celtic came to an equaliser.
Instead, Borna Barisic teed up Roofe to head home Rangers’ third, with the English forward given the freedom of the Celtic box to pick his spot.
Defoe was afforded similar scope inside the penalty era, skipping past a weak challenge from Stephen Welsh to slide in a fourth goal and complete the rout.
Another routine win for Rangers. Another soul-sapping defeat for Celtic.
Man of the match – Ryan Kent
What did we learn?
Not a great deal, as it turns out. Rangers are just a better team than Celtic. Even when things are not going their way – as has been the case at times in recent derbies – there is just an assuredness about them.
Their system and roles are so well honed that they rarely look rattled or in serious trouble, and they have players who, at different times, step up when it matters. McGregor – even at 39 – is a big-game performer, Kent has grown into a talismanic figure, and Roofe and Morelos share the goalscoring burden.
Their only regret will be that this excellent campaign will end with only one trophy.
For everything that can be said about Rangers, the opposite applies to Celtic. Even when creating clear-cut chances, they never seem likely to score, which is probably a symptom of their confidence-shattering season.
Even their stalwarts such as Brown and McGregor, cornerstones of their quadruple treble success, look shadows of themselves, and Edouard’s value has plummeted in the last 12 months.
The task facing their next manager seems to grow more daunting with every passing week.
What they said
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard on Sky Sports: “It’s a big rival and an important game. Doesn’t matter what’s at stake. It was a really strong performance. We’ve ran away with it in the end.
“[The red card] It made it easier, I’m not going to lie. These games are always decided by big moments. It was a fantastic goal and I thought the referee got the decision right.”
Celtic interim manager John Kennedy on Sky Sports: “It’s a sore one. Going down to 10 men puts you on the back foot but we managed to create within that. Rangers were more clinical once again but the sending off is the big part of the game.
“It didn’t quite fall into place today. I’m disappointed with the result, massively. But as you can see I’m a bit annoyed with the sending off.”
With both sides out of the Scottish Cup, they have a 10-day break before returning to league action. Rangers are away to Livingston on 12 May (18:00 BST), while Celtic host in-form St Johnstone (19:45).
- 4SimpsonBooked at 17mins
- 31BarisicSubstituted forWrightat 79′minutes
- 25RoofeSubstituted forDefoeat 86′minutes
- 20MorelosSubstituted forHagiat 84′minutes
- 8BrownSubstituted forSoroat 60′minutes
- 42McGregorBooked at 26mins
- 49ForrestSubstituted forChristieat 60′minutes
- 27ElyounoussiBooked at 63mins
- 22EdouardSubstituted forJohnstonat 75′minutes
- Nick Walsh
Match ends, Rangers 4, Celtic 1.
Second Half ends, Rangers 4, Celtic 1.
Jack Simpson (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by David Turnbull (Celtic).
Goal! Rangers 4, Celtic 1. Jermain Defoe (Rangers) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ianis Hagi.
Foul by Steven Davis (Rangers).
David Turnbull (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, Rangers. Glen Kamara tries a through ball, but Jermain Defoe is caught offside.
Steven Davis (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Michael Johnston (Celtic).
Foul by Ianis Hagi (Rangers).
Ismaila Soro (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Rangers. Jermain Defoe replaces Kemar Roofe.
Offside, Celtic. Scott Bain tries a through ball, but Michael Johnston is caught offside.
Substitution, Rangers. Ianis Hagi replaces Alfredo Morelos because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) header from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Jonjoe Kenny with a cross.
Attempt saved. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kemar Roofe.
Attempt missed. Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ismaila Soro.
Substitution, Rangers. Scott Wright replaces Borna Barisic.
Joe Aribo (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.