Written by – Jamie Currie
It’s been four years worth of waiting but Rangers overcame Celtic’s challenge in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden after a barnstorming 2-2 draw after extra-time which Rangers went on to win 5-4 in a historic first Old Firm penalty shoot-out.
Right from the word go Rangers were at it. Craig Gordon had to keep the scores level early on as he done well to deny Kenny Miller‘s effort at his near post. Celtic hit back, however, as the almost invisible Scott Brown dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post.
Miller would not be denied as he gave Rangers a 16th-minute lead. Halliday’s pass was diverted into the path of the striker, who had made a clever run beyond Boyata and produced a first-time of the highest quality finish beyond Gordon. Rangers would continue to run Celtic ragged for the remainder of the first half. Their passing, movement, and intelligence of play was difficult for Celtic to live with. However, Griffiths would hit the post before the half was over, and the rebound miss by Patrick Roberts would have embarrassed Peter van Vossen – certainly not the composure of a £12m player.
Celtic would equalise from a corner at the start of the second half. Erik Sviatchenko rose highest, between Wilson and Halliday, and headed the ball into the top corner.
In extra-time Rangers would strike back, Barrie McKay produced a moment of inspiration, turning Scott Brown inside out, before firing an unstoppable shot beyond Gordon. However, Tom Rogic would equalise at the start of the second half of extra-time. Kieran Tierney beat Nicky Law, picked him out and he found the bottom corner. Griffiths was denied by a fine Foderingham save as the game went to penalty kicks.
It would be Rogic, who scored the goal that took the game to penalties, who would miss the decisive spot kick as Rangers ran out 5-4 winners.
Mark Warburton, who seemed quite emotional, spoke of his delight for the fans, the players, and everyone involved at the club that Rangers managed to pull off the victory
“We’re delighted and just the same as with the Petrofac Final we are delighted for the fans.
“The support was magnificent again and I thought that the players to a man were great.
“We were down to the bare numbers through some injuries and with players being cup tied, but to a man we were outstanding.
“I think that the best team won. We dominated the first half I think that we were unfortunate to concede after both breaks.
“We showed character to get onto the ball, to dominate possession and dictate play the way that we wanted to and I’m just so pleased for the players.”
MAN OF THE MATCH
The little man won the sponsor’s award – and rightly so. He was a constant thorn in Celtic’s side all afternoon and in all areas of the park, his defensive work rate was phenomenal as was his outstanding extra-time strike.
STAT OF THE MATCH
According to SkySports, Rangers managed 62.8% possession to Celtic’s 37.2%. Last week Peterhead had 41% over the 90 minutes. It just shows how much Rangers dominated the football.
Kenny Miller’s opening goal – It gave Rangers a great platform to build on and gave the players, and the fans believe that Rangers could get into the final.
- The talk before the match was about who would win the midfield battle. It wasn’t a battle; Halliday, Ball and Holt totally bossed it from the starting whistle, while Scott Brown and Nir Bitton spent the day chasing shadows. Two tackles on Brown, one from Halliday and one from Dom Ball early on set the tone for the game.
- Patrick Roberts in the first half, especially, was terrible and let his side down, not only for his horrendous miss, but for his refusal to do the defensive side of the game, whereas Barrie McKay for Rangers showed his work rate and was dove-tailing and doubling up with Wallace all throughout the game.
- Both centre-halves were superb. They played Griffiths excellently and looked very comfortable – even when Dom Ball went back to partner Danny Wilson when Rob Kiernan went off.
- Gideon Zelalem showed why he was brought up from Arsenal yesterday. He came on when the team was running out of steam and his game intelligence and use of the ball for someone so young was outstanding. Hopefully he can kick on from here in the final few matches of the season.
- Both full-backs, superb, like the central two, they were pivotal in both phases of play and were outstanding.
Back to league business on Wednesday night and the third trip of the season to East Road to face Hibs.