Celtic sink Old Firm rivals Rangers to reach Scottish Cup final

Date published: Sunday 23rd April 2017 2:25

Brendan Rodgers is now just 90 minutes away from joining Celtic’s elite band of treble-winning bosses after his team beat Rangers 2-0 to book their place in the William Hill Scottish Cup final.

His rampant Ladbrokes Premiership and Betfred Cup winners strolled to victory over their old rivals in their Hampden semi-final to set up a May 27 showdown with Aberdeen.

Callum McGregor struck inside 11 minutes before Scott Sinclair’s penalty extended the Parkhead’s side unbeaten run against Scottish opposition under Rodgers to 42 games.

Victory over the Dons will see the former Liverpool manager take his place alongside Jock Stein and Martin O’Neill – the last Hoops boss to complete a domestic clean sweep 16 years ago.

New Gers boss Pedro Caixinha claimed he was working with the best team in Scotland when he was appointed last month, but the scale of the rebuilding job facing him this summer has now been laid out in brutal fashion after a thoroughly one-sided affair.

Rodgers recalled Mikael Lustig and Dedryck Boyata into his line-up while Wes Foderingham was able to take his place in goal for Gers despite pre-match fitness fears. Winger Barrie McKay, however, was left on the bench.

But the writing was on the wall for Gers from kick-off.

It took just three minutes for Celtic to create their first opening. Referee Willie Collum could have halted play on halfway as Patrick Roberts was wiped out by Andy Halliday but waved play on as the Hoops swarmed forward. McGregor, however, failed to beat Foderingham.

Halliday did not escape Scot free, though, as Collum returned to flash yellow at the Rangers midfielder.

Stuart Armstrong’s bending shot then crept just wide of Foderingham’s left-hand post as Rodgers’ team continued to hold the semi-final clash by the scruff of the neck.

And it was not much longer before they capitalised on their early dominance.

With 11 minutes on the clock, Lustig shelled the ball forward for Moussa Demebele. With Bates wary of getting too close, the Frenchman was allowed to bring the ball down and tee up McGregor, who calmly steered the opener into the far corner of the net from 20 yards out.

Dembele was then disappointed to see his header from an Armstrong corner sail over but worse was to come on the half-hour mark when his hamstring went.

If there was relief in the Rangers end at seeing the back of Celtic’s 32-goal frontman, it quickly evaporated as Leigh Griffiths appeared to take his place.

It took five minutes for Rodgers to make his change but Rangers failed to lay a single glove on their opponents while a man light.

And the Ibrox troops were fortunate they did not see their numbers cut back as Myles Beermen escaped with only a caution despite hacking down Roberts twice in quick succession.

From the second free-kick, Griffiths forced Foderingham to dive at full stretch to keep out his strike.

It took Gers 41 minutes to register a shot, but Kenny Miller’s left-foot effort was as ambitious as it was off target.

Caixinha realised his plan was not working and acted at the break, replacing the ineffective Joe Garner and Andy Halliday with McKay and Joe Doodoo.

But a second Celtic goal six minutes after the restart put paid to the Light Blues’ hopes.

From a swift counter, Roberts released Griffiths into the box. The angle looked to be against the frontman but James Tavernier flew in anyway with a reckless challenge and Collum had no hesitation pointing to the spot.

Foderingham got a hand to Sinclair’s strike as the wideman fired left but could not keep it out.

He did better to push a Griffiths strike over but Celtic were now turning the screw on the beleaguered Gers, with Roberts and Griffiths forcing Foderingham into a one-man show of resistance.

Gers’ day was summed up late on as Martyn Waghorn was presented with two gilt-edged chances but blazed both over.

Celtic substitute Tom Rogic almost put the seal on victory in stoppage time but rifled against the base of the post.

Related Articles

HAVE YOUR SAY IN OUR FORUM

Comments