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  • Penalty heartache for Celts at Hampden

    Penalty heartache for Celts at Hampden

    By: Martin Dalziel on 17 Apr, 2016 14:47

  • Scottish Cup semi-final
    Hampden Park, Glasgow
    Sunday, April 17, 2016

    (Sviatchenko 50, Rogic 106)

    (Miller 16, McKay 96)

    [Penalties: Celtic 4 – 5 Rangers]

    THE lottery of penalty-kicks saw Celtic bow out of the Scottish Cup today to Rangers at the penultimate hurdle.  After falling behind early in the first-half of normal time to Kenny Miller’s accurate finish, the Hoops battled back and drew level through Erik Sviatchenko after a blistering start to the second-half.

    The champions persevered as the game wore on and won a late chance to seal their place in the final with a header from Nir Bitton, but extra-time beckoned and the Bhoys found themselves behind again after Barrie McKay sent a powerful long-range strike past Craig Gordon in the first-half of the extra 30 minutes.

    The Hoops showed true fighting spirit, however, and got back into the game at 2-2 through substitute Tom Rogic’s fine finish in the box before Leigh Griffiths clipped the crossbar with a stunning free-kick.

    Normal time and extra-time was not enough to decide the game, however, and the match went to penalties where the Ibrox side triumphed 5-4 after Rogic sent his spot kick over.

    It was a heartbreaking end to a largely frustrating game for the Celts, who will now look to wrap up the SPFL Premiership for the fifth time in a row as quickly as possible.

    Celtic made just one change to the team from the side that beat Motherwell 2-1 in the league last weekend, with Gary Mackay-Steven returning to the starting XI in place of Colin Kazim-Richards. The former Dundee United winger had missed the victory over the Steelmen but was restored to the left side of attack in support of striker Leigh Griffiths.

    The match saw a Hampden debut for Patrick Roberts as well as a landmark 100th appearance for Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal, who was called into action early on to stop Kenny Miller opening the scoring as the Ibrox side started the match on the front foot.

    The striker gathered a ball over the top of the Hoops defence, took a touch and shot at goal but Gordon had narrowed the angle and did well to block the effort after some early pressure from Rangers.

    Ronny Deila’s side retaliated almost instantly with shots from Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths as the game spilled from end to end inside a fraught opening 10 minutes but the Bhoys soon found themselves 1-0 down, as Miller capitalised on a deflected pass into the Celtic box from a free-kick.

    Brown had done well to get a foot on the low delivery into the area but his efforts only directed the ball in the direction of Miller who shot from right to left past Gordon to put his side in front.

    A rasping shot from Kieran Tierney from distance marked Celtic’s reply but the full-back’s effort fizzed past Wes Foderingham’s post. The Hoops were then forced into an early change as Erik Sviatchenko replaced Dedryck Boyata on 25 minutes.

    Tierney then made an instrumental interception in the box to stop Miller pulling the trigger again before Sviatchenko was cautioned for his first challenge, catching Andy Halliday outside the box.

    The momentum then suddenly shifted in Celtic’s favour when Griffiths cracked the post with a shot, which feel kindly to Patrick Roberts with the goal gaping but the teenager could only find the side netting with his shot.

    The Bhoys pressed on, however, with Bitton forcing another save out of Foderingham, which the keeper spilled but gathered in time to stop Griffiths poking the ball home.

    As half-time approached the game settled down but the Hoops were still forced to do much of the defending as their deep defensive line invited the Ibrox side forward but the score remained 1-0 at the interval.

    After a lacklustre first-half Celtic emerged for the start of second period a changed team. The personnel were the same but the drive, intensity and most importantly accuracy with the ball was drastically improved, and it didn’t take long for the Bhoys draw themselves level through Sviatchenko.

    A long range free-kick from Griffiths sparked a string of corners and the Celts finally made the pressure count at the fourth attempt when the Danish defender out-jumped his marker to head beyond Foderingham and tie the game five minutes after the restart.

    Mark Warburton’s side responded with a prolonged period of possession but a blocked free-kick from James Tavernier was the best of their chances as the game passed the hour mark.

    The Ibrox outfit remained largely on top in terms of possession, with Celtic playing on the break as their city rivals committed men forward. Callum McGregor then replaced Mackay-Steven with 20 minutes left as the Bhoys sought to get back on the ball but they remained pinned back as the game crept towards its conclusion.

    The Celts got a crucial sight of goal in the closing stages when Griffiths burst forward and cut-back for McGregor but the midfielder’s effort was blocked and Charlie Mulgrew headed over from the resultant corner. Stefan Johansen’s match then came to an end as he was replaced by Rogic with extra time looming.

    Celtic had a late chance to grab the winner when Tavernier was booked for a foul on Roberts, allowing Bitton to get a head on goal from the following free-kick but his effort arched agonisingly over the bar and out of play before the full-time whistle heralded extra time.

    The Hoops started the first-half of the extra 30 minutes well but couldn’t force Foderingham into a save and they soon found themselves 2-1 down when McKay found the net from distance with a stunning strike that Gordon could do little to stop.

    Griffiths responded with a curling free-kick that went past the post before Sviatchenko forced another fine save out of Foderingham but the Celts finished the half behind.

    It took only seconds of the restart, however, for the champions to draw level again, this time through Rogic, who supplied a sublime finish to Kieran Tierney’s cut-back to make it 2-2. The Australian then almost put the Hoops in front when he was picked out in the box but Foderingham did well to block his clipped shot at goal.

    With one minute left on the clock Griffiths then curled a brilliant free-kick off the cross bar, which hit off Foderingham’s back before rolling out of play just past the post before the final whistle blew signalling a penalty shoot out to decide the game.

    After both teams missed kicks in the opening five, the shoot-out went to sudden death and Rogic’s wayward shot from the spot spelt the end of a disappointing afternoon for the Scottish champions.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Sviatchenko 26), Mulgrew, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Roberts, Johansen (Rogic 88), Mackay-Steven (McGregor 71); Griffiths. Not used: Bailly, Kazim-Richards, Armstrong, Commons,

    RANGERS (4-3-3) Foderingham; Tavernier, Kiernan (Zelalem 88), Wilson, Wallace; Halliday, Ball Holt; Shiels (Law 66), Miller (Clark 91), McKay.
    Not used: Bell, Burt

    Website man of the match: Kieran Tierney

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