By Anthony Onifade

13th May, 2023 | 1:19pm

Todd Cantwell delivers first half Rangers masterclass v Celtic, Michael Beale will be delighted

It was a first half to remember for Rangers as they went in at half-time 2-0 up against Celtic in a dominant and assured display in front of their own fans at Ibrox.

Michael Beale was looking to claim his first win as Rangers boss in five attempts against their Old Firm rivals and his men started the game on top and in the ascendancy.

The Gers took the lead when Cantwell latched onto a Joe Hart save from John Lundstram’s piledriver to score his fourth Scottish Premiership goal since his January move from Norwich City.

Celtic could well have equalised soon after when Liel Abada’s excellent through ball found Oh Hyeon-Gyu racing towards goal, goalkeeper Robby McCrorie slipped and with the goal gaping, the striker’s flick past the goalkeeper stuck the outside of the far post.

Abada missed another gaping chance for the Hoops when he failed to properly connect with Anthony Ralston’s cross. And Rangers doubled their lead inside 33 minutes when centre-back John Souttar pulled clear of his marker to head in a James Tavernier corner.

With barely anything to play for between the two teams with the Scottish Premiership gong already sewn up and Rangers not finishing the campaign trophyless, it was merely pride Beale’s men were playing and he will have been delighted by the performance of one of his key stars in Cantwell.

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The former Norwich City has enjoyed a thrilling period in a Rangers shirt since his winter transfer move and the 25-year-old maestro proved why he is Beale’s MVP with a stunning first-half display.

Not only did he score the first goall but it was his all-round play both in the attacking and defensive phase that serves as a reminder as to why the Gers will rely so heavily on him in the near future.

The former Norwich City was excellent in his link-play with his forwards, holding onto the ball in crucial areas when trying to relieve pressure and his team and even showcased a jaw-dropping skill getting past three Celtic players, which will have had the whole of Ibrox on their knees.

It was a first-half masterclass from the former England under-21 international.

As per SofaScore, Cantwell picked up the best average score of anyone on the pitch at 7.3/10, won five of his nine ground duels, completed eight of his 11 passes, won three tackles, one interception as well as his terrific early strike which Hart had no chance of saving.

With Beale looking to run the rule over his squad ahead of what will be a huge summer of rebuild, the former QPR manager already holds a key player who will prove vital to his chances of any success next season, and that man is Cantwell who was a class above the rest in the first half.

In other Rangers news, the Portugal manager has been raving about the talent of one Ibrox ace.