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  • Derby delight as dominant Celts book Scottish Cup final place

    Derby delight as dominant Celts book Scottish Cup final place

    By: Mark Henderson on 23 Apr, 2017 14:04

  • William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final
    Hampden, Glasgow
    Sunday, April 23, 2017

    (McGregor 11, Sinclair pen. 51)


    GOALS in either half from Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair saw a dominant Celtic dispatch Rangers 2-0 at Hampden to book their place in the Scottish Cup final.

    McGregor’s composed finish from 18 yards put the Hoops into an early lead after they had made a blistering start to proceedings.

    And Sinclair put them in complete command when he converted from the penalty spot six minutes into the second half following James Tavernier’s foul on Leigh Griffiths in the box.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side had further chances to add to their tally, with Tom Rogic striking the woodwork as the clock ticked down, but that mattered little as the green-and-white end of the National Stadium exploded in celebration at the final whistle.

    It was another moment to savour in a stellar first season in charge for the Irishman, with the League Cup and a sixth successive title already secured and a domestic clean sweep now only one victory away. Aberdeen will lie in wait in the final on May 27.

    Patrick Roberts came into the starting XI to make his 50th appearance for the club. His inclusion was one of three changes to the team that extended the club's unbeaten run in domestic football this season to 40 matches away to Ross County last weekend.

    Dedryck Boyata was restored to the heart of the rearguard and Mikael Lustig came in at right-back as the Bhoys reverted to a back-four for the clash. Erik Sviatchenko, James Forrest and Rogic all dropped to the bench.

    Celtic started with real purpose and drive, immediately taking the game to the Ibrox side and winning an early corner that Moussa Dembele headed wide.  Moments later, a reckless lunge from Andy Halliday on Roberts saw the Rangers midfielder enter the book. He was lucky to avoid a red. It couldn’t halt the Hoops’ momentum, however.  

    Stuart Armstrong was next to threaten as the one-way traffic continued, the midfielder curling a shot inches wide from 20 yards.

    In the 11th minute, the Bhoys made the breakthrough.  Lustig launched a raking ball over the top for Dembele, who held the ball up, before teeing up McGregor, who coolly stroked the ball into the far corner beyond the statuesque Wes Foderingham.

    It was wholly deserved lead and Brendan Rodgers’ side kept up the pressure, with Armstrong, Scott Brown and McGregor dictating proceedings from midfield as Celtic completely bossed possession.  

    Dembele, who had caused the Rangers rearguard consternation with his pace and power, headed over from Scott Sinclair’s set-piece but his game to a premature end just before the half-hour mark. Earning a corner with a clever back-heel, the striker went down holding his hamstring and was unable to continue, with Griffiths eventually taking his place after a period of five minutes.   

    Once Brendan Rodgers’ side regrouped, they continued their dominance, and Roberts had a free-kick saved by Foderingham at his near post after he had been felled by Myles Beerman, who was perhaps fortunate not collect a second yellow card.

    It until four minutes before the interval for the Ibrox side to fashion their first shot on goal when Miller blazed a half-volley over from distance. To try and stem the Celtic tide, Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha made a double switch at half-time, introducing Barrie McKay and Joe Dodoo, but the same pattern continued.

    Within six minutes of the restart, the Hoops had doubled their advantage. Racing onto a through ball, Griffiths was sent tumbling in the box by James Tavernier as he bore down on goal. Referee Willie Collum had no option other than to award the penalty, and Sinclair made no mistake from the spot, his shot finding the net despite the best efforts of Foderingham who got a hand to the ball.

    A flurry of chances then followed for the champions, who were now cutting open Rangers at will, much to the delight of a buoyant Celtic support. Foderingham made a magnificent save to push over Griffiths’ volley after a terrific piece of control from the striker, and Boyata headed narrowly over from Jozo Simunovic’s knockdown.

    Foderingham then came to his team’s rescue, producing smart saves from the impressive Roberts and Griffiths.   

    Rangers briefly rallied in the closing stages, with Miller having a header saved by Gordon and looping a shot over. Martyn Waghorn also spurned a couple of opportunities as Caixinha’s team mounted some desperate late attacks.

    But the last word almost fell to the champions as substitute Tom Rogic cannoned a thumping drive struck the the post from 20 yards as Celtic finished as they had started, the final whistle prompting wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.   

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Armstrong, Brown; Roberts (Forrest 82), McGregor (Rogic 75), Sinclair; Dembele (Griffiths 34)
    Not Used: Bailly, Gamboa, Sviatchenko, Kouassi

    RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Bates, Wilson, Beerman; Hyndman (Windass 79), Holt, Halliday (McKay 46), Miller; Garner (Dodoo 46); Waghorn
    Not Used: Alnwick, Hill, Toral, Hodson

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Brown


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