Celtic and Rangers have made 'real statement for Scottish football', says Kris Commons

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland
Rangers' Alfredo Morelos and Celtic's Olivier Ntcham
Rangers defeated Porto as Celtic won away to Lazio

Europa League wins for Celtic and Rangers over "European giants" show "Scottish football is back", says ex-Scotland midfielder Kris Commons.

Celtic are through to the last 32 after a 2-1 win against Lazio in Rome, while Rangers defeated Porto 2-0 at Ibrox.

Those successes have moved Scotland to within one place of securing a second Champions League place for 2021-22.

"It's huge for both clubs - Lazio and Porto, these are big clubs," Commons told BBC Scotland.

"So the fact Rangers and Celtic are not only going toe to toe with them but beating them is a real statement for Scottish football."

Alfredo Morelos' 21st goal of the season set Rangers on their way against Porto and the Colombian set up Steven Davis for the second, while fellow striker Odsonne Edouard did not add to his 12 for Celtic this season season but did set up Olivier Ntcham's winner in Rome.

"The scouts, the people who are coming to watch the likes of Morelos and Edouard - they will be judged in the big games and the fact they are performing only enhances their reputation," former Celtic midfielder Commons said.

"I don't think there's any team in European football who would want to go to Ibrox or Celtic Park."

Lennon and Gerrard enhancing reputations

Lennon began a second stint as Celtic manager in February after Brendan Rodgers moved to Leicester City having secured seven domestic trophies in a row.

"Neil Lennon had his critics when he first came through the door," Commons recalled. "There were a lot of people who weren't happy with his appointment.

"I always said from day one, the one thing he had over Brendan Rodgers' unbelievable run as Celtic manager was that Neil Lennon has proven with a Celtic squad of similar style that he got big results in Europe."

The victory in Rome came on the seventh anniversary of Celtic's 2-1 Champions League win over Barcelona - Commons having come on as a second-half substitute.

"Neil Lennon was brought in for one thing - to keep the ship going forward but ultimately to get big results in Europe and he's proven that not only in Rome but I thought he was very unlucky not to get more than a draw in Rennes as well," he said.

While Celtic top their group and have secured qualification with two games to spare, Rangers sit second in their section behind Young Boys on goal difference.

The Ibrox side are undefeated at Ibrox in European competition since Steven Gerrard was appointed manager and have kept 15 clean sheets, scoring 42 goals with only 17 against.

"The one thing that Steven Gerrard brings is an entourage of people interested in how he is doing," Commons added. "The fact he's still going toe to toe with Celtic in the league means it is all pluses for him and can only enhance his reputation."

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