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  • Dominant Celtic book Scottish League Cup final place

    Dominant Celtic book Scottish League Cup final place

    By: Martin Dalziel on 01 Feb, 2015 15:40

  • Scottish League Cup, presented by QTS
    Hampden Park
    Sunday, February 1, 2015

    (Griffiths 10, Commons 31)


    CELTIC strode confidently into the final of the Scottish League Cup, presented by QTS, with a comfortable and assured 2-0 win over Rangers today (Sunday) at Hampden.

    An early goal from Leigh Griffiths sent the Hoops support into raptures before a Kris Commons thunderbolt from 25 yards sealed the win.

    The Celts were forced to work hard for the victory in the second half but stood strong through the hard graft of their back line and captain, Scott Brown, to carry Ronny Deila to his first cup final as Celtic manager.

    The Bhoys had secured their place in today’s tie with a crushing 6-0 win over Partick Thistle at Paradise in October and went into the game in confident mood after recording four wins and four clean sheets in the league since the turn of the year.

    Ronny Deila made two changes to the team which beat Ross County in the league last weekend, with Anthony Stokes replacing John Guidetti and Mikael Lustig coming in for Adam Matthews.

    The game started at a frenetic pace but it was Celtic out of the two who settled first. The opening stages saw the Bhoys begin to develop their passing style and push the Ibrox side back down the flanks.

    Griffiths and Lustig both supplied early crosses but there were no takers. Griffiths would then turn from creator to goalscorer in a matter of minutes, however, as the Celts raced into the lead within 10 minutes.

    Stefan Johansen collected the ball on the right wing and turned towards goal before floating a tempting cross to the back post.

    Griffiths leapt well to out-jump both his markers to meet the ball with his head and cushion it beyond Steve Simonsen. The striker then wheeled away in euphoric celebration as he put the Hoops in front.

    Rangers began to play better after the restart and used a good spell of possession to carry the ball into Celtic territory. Kenny Miller hassled and harried in the lone striker role but the combination of Jason Denayer and Virgil van Dijk snuffed out any hint of a threat. Celtic regained their foothold, however, and began to force Rangers back again.

    Stokes picked up possession on the left and cut inside onto his right but his shot fizzed over the bar.

    The effort from the Irishman was off target but it was another warning from Celtic and they went 2-0 up just moments later when Scott Brown did brilliantly to dig the ball out on the edge of the Rangers box and win it back for the Hoops.

    The captain looked to have been fouled in the area and went down in the box but he had done enough to set up Commons who took a touch to steady himself before unleashing an unstoppable drive from 25 yards into the back of the net and put Celtic 2-0 up.

    The strike was an instant classic from the Hoops attacker and was well-deserved on the balance of play.

    Van Dijk then almost made it three when he rose to meet a Stokes corner from the left as half-time approached but his header went just over the bar. Stefan Johansen then had a chance cleared off the line as Celtic threatened to run riot but the half-time whistle spared the Ibrox men’s blushes.

    The Ibrox side switched Fraser Aird for Jon Daly for the second half but the Bhoys maintained their dominance after the restart. Commons tested Simonsen early with a drive from distance which the keeper spilled but gathered at the second attempt.

    Good play from Commons won a free kick for the Bhoys around 30 yards out but Griffiths’ shot from the set-piece curled wide.

    Celtic had shouts for a penalty waved away on 50 minutes when Griffiths hit the ground under the weight of a challenge from Lee Wallace in the box but nothing was given.

    John Guidetti then replaced Griffiths up front as the Hoops fought to regain their place in the game as the clock ticked down. James Forrest also relieved Stokes of his duties for the afternoon as the Bhoys chased a third.

    Celtic captain Scott Brown continued to drive his team forward by winning the ball deep in Rangers territory and always being available for his own defence.

    Celtic carved out a good chance with 10 minutes left after Guidetti latched onto a through ball but the Swede was eventually stopped in the box after dancing through a string of tackles.

    Forrest then linked up cleverly with Commons as he used his pace to burst through the Rangers back line but his chipped cross curled out.

    Adam Matthews then replaced Lustig, who had been booked in the first half, as the Celts sought to remain in control of the match, though Man of the Match, Scott Brown, earned a late booking for a challenge on Ian Black.

    The full-time whistle signalled celebrations from the Celtic players, management and support, who now have a Scottish League Cup final to look forward to next month.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Matthews 84), Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton, Commons, Johansen, Stokes (Forrest 73); Griffiths (Guidetti 69).
    Not used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Scepovic, Henderson.

    RANGERS: Simonsen; Smith, Aird (Daly 45), Wallace, McCulloch; Law, Black, Hutton, Forster, McGregor; Miller (Clark 80)
    Not used: Templeton,  Boyd, Faure, Shiels, Robinson.

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Brown

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