(Ross 28 pen & 50, Ewens 45 & 72, Howat 80)
Celtic completed their home fixtures for the 2017 season with a stylish performance and a convincing win against Rangers. Doubles from Natalie Ross and Sarah Ewens plus a single from Kirsty Howat saw them record a 5-1 victory which clinched their third-place finish in the league.
The first-half was evenly contested but the Hoops went in 2-1 ahead at the break and then turned the screw after the turnaround with wave after wave of attacks on the visitors’ goal.
Earlier, though, despite Celtic creating the greater number of scoring opportunities in the first half, there was a cat-and-mouse opening 20 minutes with a Natalie Ross attempt saved by Rangers goalkeeper, Elliott the nearest Celtic came to scoring.
There was a blow in the 21st minute when centre-back, Courtney Whyte had to leave the field with what looked like a nasty knee injury and she was replaced by Georgie Rafferty.
Immediately after that change there was a real scare for the Hoops when Rangers were awarded a free kick wide on their right. The delivery eluded everyone and hit the back post before being scrambled clear.
The breakthrough for Celtic came in the 28th minute when Ewens was brought down in the penalty area, and Natalie Ross confidently scored from the spot.
Directly from the resulting kick-off, however, Rangers were level when Lauren Davidson knocked the ball into the net.
Just when it looked as if the teams would go in on level terms at half time, a free-kick from Heather Richards was headed home by Ewens.
The second half was a whole different ball game with Celtic in commanding form as they attacked the Rangers goal in waves throughout the 45 minutes.
Ross added a third for Celtic in the 50th minute, cutely flicking the ball past Elliott before finishing from close in. From then on the Rangers goalkeeper was the busiest player on the park.
In the 72nd minute, Celtic were rewarded for their sparkling attacking play when Ewens scored the fourth goal and her own second, finishing off good work by right-back Stephanie Knox.
Just six minutes later, substitute Howat completed the scoring after latching on to a clever through ball from Kerry Montgomery. Only a minute after that, Ross had a golden opportunity to complete her hat-trick when Howat squared the ball to her in front of goal, but her shot was well saved by Elliott.
This was one of Celtic’s best performances of the year in front of their biggest crowd of the season.
Celtic: Gibson, Knox (Middleton), Whyte (Rafferty), McCulloch, Napier (Connor), Clark, Ross, Richards, Ewens, Montgomery, Littlejohn (Howat). Subs not used: M Cunningham, Fitzsimmons, Fulton.
Report & Picture: Celtic FC