Celtic v Rangers: Scottish Cup semi-final – as it happened

Daniel Harris on 15 April 2018

Anyway, enjoy the rest of the weekend – bye.

So there we go. That’s that, but there’s more football to be had here with Rob Smyth, who’s bringing you Man United v West Brom.

As bad as Rangers were, Celtic were excellent. Ntcham controlled midfield, getting plenty of ball to Rogic, Forrest and McGregor, while Dembele was far too much for Martin and McCrorie to handle. It’ll take something very special from Motherwell to deny them the double treble. It’ll take something very special from everyone to deny them it again next season.

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Full-time: Celtic 4-0 Rangers

Celtic will play Motherwell in the Scottish Cup Final!

Celtic’s Kieran Tierney celebrates with teammates after the match.
Celtic’s Kieran Tierney celebrates with teammates after the match. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

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90+3 min Basically, 4-0 is a result for them. It could’ve been a lot worse.

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90+1 min It’s not at all easy to understand this Rangers performance. The players were cheering when they drew Celtic which suggested renewed intensity and intention, but they’ve turned up here and pretty much waited to lose. And in saying that I don’t mean they haven’t kicked people, more that they haven’t made Celtic fight for it - they haven’t run hard enough for the second balls, haven’t concentrated hard enough to be in the right places, and haven’t been composed enough to pass intelligently. They’ve been awful.

90 min There’ll be three added minutes.

89 min Alves is down and doesn’t look able to continue, except Rangers have used all three subs.

87 min Every time Celtic step up the pace, we see the gulf in class. Brown is really enjoying himself, spraying passes about, and after he sends one right, Ntcham squares it back inside for McGregor, who picks a slide for Tierney down the left. He hits the line and cuts back, and though he doesn’t pick out a man, the ball rolls into the path of McGregor, who spanks a shot just over the top. Celtic are enjoying this, playing with the freedom of a side who who’d struggle to lose even if they started scoring deliberate own goals.

85 min Celtic are about to go 10 games unbeaten against Rangers. The Rangers section of the ground is very close to empty, and with good reason: this isn’t just about this game, but about the impending doom of the double treble, never mind what might happen next season. The last Old Firm match suggested that next season might be competitive; this one does not suggest that as any kind of remote possibility. It’s been a total no-show from the Bears.

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83 min Gratifyingly, Sky Go on the phone has now gone down – I apologise for the lack of detail in the last few posts.

GOAL! Celtic 4-0 Rangers (Ntcham pen, 78)

Dembele passes his honour, and Ntcham doesn’t mess about, smacking past Foderingham.

Ntcham scores Celtic’s fourth from the spot.
Ntcham scores Celtic’s fourth from the spot. Photograph: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

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77 min PENALTY CELTIC!

Holt fouls Roberts in the box, and this might get messy yet!

77 min In the last 10 derbies, Rangers have led for a total of 48 minutes. Ouch.

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77 min Sinclair is doing his best to keep the tempo high - he’s playing like a man who wants his place back, and he makes ground down the left before clipping a cut-back behind Roberts.

75 min After that brief flurry which followed the red and penalty, Rangers haven’t been able to get forward at all. And as for young McCrorie, today has been a real lesson: football is hard, footballers are ruthless. But though I can’t even grasp how frazzled minds get under pressure, even he should’ve know better than to haul his man down in the box as he did.

73 min A change apiece: for Rangers, Holt replaces Dorrans, who’s done nothing; for Celtic, Roberts replaces Forrest.

71 min “I don’t understand why Celtic aren’t going for the jugular here,” says Paul. “The fans would like nothing better than a 6-0! I’ve seen these types of tactics from Rodgers before in OF matches where the game is safely won. Not good enough!”

Not good enough? Football fans are never satisfied. I’m not actually sure this is on Rodgers, though – he’s not out there. The players know the game’s won, so perhaps they’ve dropped their intensity – I know as fans we think we’d run like mad for every second of every game, but it’s nonsense. If it wasn’t, we’d never see fighters gas.

69 min This is a relative rarity: a big derby match in which the result is settled with plenty of time remaining. I mean, I know these derby matches have been different lately, but it’s not the way of things generally and as you’d expect, Celtic aren’t wasting the opportunity, wading into Rangers with a right old racket.

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67 min Sinclair runs at Alves, who brings him down. Celtic are now so confident that they don’t sling the free-kick into the box, instead taking a short one just to get their passing started again.

66 min Celtic take the sting out of things, knocking the ball around until they’re ready to attack, Ntcham squaring for McGregor who can’t quite slide the ball through for Dembele.

63 min And what’s this! Morelos and Brown and shoving each other round about the sternum. First Dorrans fouled McGregor pretty nastily, the ref played advantage and then Rangers won a free-kick, so Tierney lay on the ball forcing Morelos to yank it from him, forcing Brown to defend his young team-mate. Dorrans, Morelos and Brown were all booked.

Morelos clashes with Brown as referee Bobby Madden attempts to intervene.
Morelos clashes with Brown as referee Bobby Madden attempts to intervene. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

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62 min I guess Graeme Murty will have to take his share of the blame for this. He doesn’t have the player to compete, but maybe the team he picked sent the wrong message to his player: that they were there to defend and hope, not to compete and be aggressive.

61 min Rangers are playing with a bit more intensity now – funny thing, the prospect of public shame. Might they have foreseen this and acted sooner, at kick-off, say?

60 min Off goes Rogic, who’s done his bit; Sinclair is on.

60 min Oh this is lovely! Ntcham takes the ball outside the box, right side, and as he opens his body to move it inside, instead he guides a pass the other way for Forrest. Beautiful! Forrest hares onto it, but drags his shot wide of the far post.

57 min Have a look! Rangers are swinging like a desperate man, and just by putting the ball in the box, they’re causing problems. Lustig takes a wild swipe at a clearance, slices the ball behind at an improbable angle, and it canons the post, bouncing back to Morelos. He could shoot first time but reckons he’s got time so takes a touch to make sure, except when do you ever have time in the box? By the time he’s set to stick it away, men are around him, and his rushed effort is smothered by Gordon.

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56 min Two more corners follow, but eventually the ball goes behind for a goalkick, which Gordon whacks downfield.

54 min It never rains! Great cross from Tavernier and Morelos is up between Boyata and Ajer, banging a header that Gordon tips over! Then, in comes the resultant corner and this time Alves is up, and again Gordon tips it away!

53 min Damage limitation for Rangers. Off goes Candeias, on comes Alves. I reckon they’d take 5-0 here...

GOAL! Celtic 3-0 Rangers (Dembele pen, 52)

Foderingham dives to his left and Dembele dinks gently to his right. This is over, and for Rangers it may well get worse before it gets better!

Dembele scores from the sport for Celtic’s third.
Dembele scores from the sport for Celtic’s third. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

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Penalty Celtic! McCrorie is sent-off! Oh dear me!

Dembele, who has victimised McCrorie something fierce, gets in behind down the left and McCrorie pulls him back just as he gets inside the box! What was he thinking?!

McCrorie takes down Dembele.
McCrorie takes down Dembele. Photograph: Ian Rutherford/PA

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49 min Morelos and Candeias move down the right and Lustig heads away the latter’s cross. It’s much but it’s hope - Rangers are at least making an effort.

48 min In it comes from Candeias, but McCrorie’s leap is to no avail, Ajer thunking clear to set Celtic away on the break, so Docherty decides he’s no choice but to haul back Forrest and accept a booking.

47 min Tavernier, who’s probably been Rangers’ best player so far – such that there is one – advances down the right and wins a corner....

46 min And off we go again...

The players are back with us.

So, how do Rangers get back into this? It’s hard to see them matching Celtic in midfield, so they need to get the ball wide and go from there, or get it forward quickly and go from there. Morelos needs to get on Boyata, who did not have a good game the last time these teams met, and he could also use some help from behind him.

Half-time email: “Thanks for posting the highlights of the 1991 final,” emails Simon McMahon. “How about adding 1987, when probably the greatest Dundee United team ever, between the two legs of the UEFA Cup final against Gothenburg, managed to lose the Scottish Cup final to St. Mirren, or 1985, or 1988, when we led Celtic on both occasions with 15 minutes to play only to lose 2-1 in both games. Then there’s the 1984 European Cup semi against Roma which we managed to lose after winning the first leg 2-0. Thankfully we don’t get near cup finals these days.”

Ha – by way of consolation, here’s a piece on Wee Jim and the rest.

Half-time entertainment: one of sport’s more brilliant, ridiculous yarns and one to cheer up Rangers fans.

Half-time: Celtic 2-0 Rangers

Celtic have been far too good for Rangers. They’re faster to the ball, faster to second balls, and able to pass through midfield; inferiority in those aspects is why we’ve barely seen Morelos, Candeias, Dorrans and Murphy.

45+2 min Just looking down the Rangers team, we’ve barely seen any of the attacking players, but the ball goes wide and Candeias makes space to cross, but is low go is far too close to Gordon who dives forward to claim.

45 min There shall be two added minutes.

45 min Rangers wham it long. To zero avail.

44 min I guess there’s this ... or there’s the double treble. Unless Rangers can muster something spectacular, it’ll be one or t’other.

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42 min The Celtic end of the ground is doing its nut, bouncing and hollering. Motherwell it is, then.

40 min Murty has seen enough. He hauls off Halliday, the presence of whom has not helped, and sends on Windass. He’ll need to do something special.

GOAL! Celtic 2-0 Rangers (McGregor, 38)

This is beautifully taken, but the defending, dearie us. First, Candeias does nowt as Tierney tiptoes past him, and though his cross isn’t great, Martin can’t be arsed getting it away, instead placing a tame touch into the path of the onrushing McGregor who, from 12 yards, curls into the far corner, a third of the way up.

McGregor celebrates making it 2-0 Celtic.
McGregor celebrates making it 2-0 Celtic. Photograph: Richard Lee/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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37 min But here comes Dembele, found down the left of the box and McCrorie is over quickly. Gulp. But this time he does well to see the ball away, thanks in part to help he receives from Tavernier.

36 min These last few minutes have been a bit better for Rangers. They haven;t looked like scoring, but have got jheir tootsies onto some green and white real estate, which is a start.

34 min Rangers win a corner down the left which Murphy boots into orbit. Gordon then comes, falls over, and McCrorie is penalised for fouling him.

33 min Celtic are all over this, and Ntcham, maybe the best player on the pitch so far, rifles a shot - Celtic’s seventh - wide of the far post.

33 min “Say what you like about the EPL, with all its money, class and quality,” says Michael George. “I left Newcastle-Arsenal at half-time to watch this, and won’t even bother with Man U-WBA. All we need is Rangers-Celtic every weekend!”

Yes, it’s close to the list of things which never disappoint, and until now only contains world snooker and world darts.

31 min Tierney sorts Candeias and proceeds down the left, so Candeias catches up and barges him over. Things are warming nicely - I’d say we’re about twenty to rumble.

30 min Murphy, who’s been quiet, gets away from Lustig who yanks him down in short order. He’s booked, as he knew he would be.

28 min Dembele is banging McCrorie about here, holding the ball up and bringing others into play. He does precisely that for Forrest, who whacks a drive wide past the far post.

Dembele holds off McCrorie.
Dembele holds off McCrorie. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

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27 min Things have got a bit bitty, and that’s no bad thing for Rangers who, by the looks of things, will lose a flowing game.

25 min Candeias, who’s been quiet, incurs down the right and wins a corner. In it comes, but it’s behind Morelos and brown then takes the opportunity to ruckus with the ref.

23 min Dembele misses a chance that my telephone refused to allow me to see.

GOAL! Celtic 1-0 Rangers (Rogic, 22)

He’s done it again! Rogic has scored each time the Old firm have met this season, and this is another beauty. A pass down the right finds Dembele pulling towards the edge of the box, he slides back to McGregor who squares for Rogic, in the middle of the box. A slick Cruyff turn sends McCrorie for something deep fried, the ball thusly moved from left to right boot, and he eases a low curler past Foderingham!

Rogic scores the opener.
Rogic scores the opener. Photograph: Richard Lee/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
Celtic celebrates.
Celtic celebrates. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

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21 min Rangers give possession away cheaply and end up giving away a corner, curled in by McGregor and flapper away - just - by Foderingham. So McGregor trots over to the other flank and curls towards the near post, where Boyata loses Tavernier and just misses with a header.

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19 min Rangers are doing a pretty decent job here, shutting off the half-spaces. Saeeing as we’re here, what is a “half-space” and how does it differ from a “space”?

17 min Morelos comes deep and right, protecting the ball from Ajer, who impatiently wrestles him to the ground. Free-kick Rangers, 35 yards from goal, near the touchline, and Tavernier immediately curls into the nearest defender.

16 min Rangers get some respite, forcing the ball into midfield and following it there. My guess is they’re playing for 0-0 until about 70, at which point they introduce Windass and have a proper shy on the break as Celtic overcommit.

13 min Forrest moves down the right and crosses low but Martin sees the ball away. Rangers can’t get out at the moment, though they’ve only ceded the one chance, and with pretty high tariff.

12 min Celtic are in control here, Tierney and McGregor combining beautifully down the left to work space for the latter to cross. His low attempt is behind those it seeks.

11 min Ntcham takes the ball outside the box and moves across the face of the D looking for a shooting opportunity. But it gets harder and harder as he starts to reach and ends up wafting something hopeful nowhere near anywhere, not even Selhurst Park.

11 min

Telstar 18
Art. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

9 min “Celtic and Rangers using the new World Cup ball, the Telstar 18,” tweets Jonathan O’Brien. “Looks beautiful - first time Adidas have done a decent WC ball since getting rid of the Tango design after France 98.”

I’d agree with that. I’ll try and find a photo in due course, but it’s comic-book in style: black and white panels, though not hexagons.

8 min We’ve not see much of Rangers as an attacking force, but here comes Morelos out on the left ... too far out on the left, carrying the ball over the touchline as he looks to move inside.

6 min Dembele hits the post! Out on the right, Ntcham arcs in a delicious cross, and Dembele has stolen ahead of Martin - he’s probably offside but it’s marginal and there’s no flag. So he sweeps the ball on the volley and on the stretch, making glorious contact with a difficult chance ... but can only rattle the near upright!

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5 min Nice from Celtic, Tavernier moving forward and combining with Murphy, but Tierney is having no such thing, dashing back, confiscating the ball, and barging forward.

3 min Rangers have a bit of the ball and Morelos is pacing about all over, looking to redeem himself after his horrific miss at the end of the last match between these two. He gets into the space behind Tierney, but Ajer is across quickly when Brown finds him.

1 min Rangers aren’t doing much in the way of pressing, so Celtic move the ball along the back four.

1 min Away we go!

Celtic huddle, led by Scotty Broon with classic ostentation.

Celtic huddle.
Celtic huddle. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

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Atmosphere’s building, there’s nothing like it, let’s have a break.

There’s a fair old racket at Hampden. This should be good.

Here they come!

Apparently, “Rangers need to try and score goals”. More as I get it.

Graeme Murty says that Rangers need to get their press right. They’ve changed their centre-backs since the sides last met, and this is a particularly big day for Ross McCrorie, who’s only 20. Gulp.

It’s amazing how often chips awaiting vinegar end up doused in a quite different liquid. We saw it last week when Manchester United won at Manchester City, and I’d not be at all surprised to see similar happen here. It’s nearly time.

Looking at the teams more closely, Celtic are without Stuart Armstrong, whom they’ll miss. He has the ability to beat men in tight areas, and with Rangers picking Halliday and Docherty in front of the back four, that’ll be useful.

The last team these teams met, Rangers were great in attack but devoid of midfield control. They’ve looked to address that here, but might miss the thrust of Josh Windass, who’s on the bench.

Cheers John – I am now back from lunch, to discover the belting news that Sky Go is down, so I’m on my phone.

It was on this day in 1970 at Hampden that Celtic played Leeds United in a Battle of Britain, a European Cup semi-final in which Jock Stein’s Bhoys saw off Don Revie and his boys with a 2-1 in. There were 136, 505 people that day, almost as many as those who saw the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976.

Of course, it’s the Scottish Cup, not the league that we are dealing with here, and since Rangers came back from the wilderness/formed a new club (delete as applicable according to your leanings and reading of Caledonian company law), their sole success over Celtic was in this competition in 2016, a penalty shoot-out victory that ushered Ronny Deila (remember him?) oot the Parkhead door.

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Here’s part of that Dave King statement from earlier in the week.

“However, on the managerial front I emphasise that the board fully recognises the need for sustained stability in this area of the club. Whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success.

“It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly. Rangers is synonymous with winning and I want to repeat my commitment that neither I, nor any of the other directors, will consider our work complete until Rangers has been restored to the top of our game.”

In essence, Dave doesn’t think that Murty is capable of “Going for 55”, to use the mission statement that Rangers announced their return to the top flight with a couple of years back. The problem that Rangers have is that Celtic are going for 49 and seven in a row, and will get it. Ten in a row - they’ve both done nine - looks very possible.

Graeme Murty is Rangers’ temporary boss, and reasonably popular with fans and the media north of the border but his hopes of landing the job he has done since October on a more permanent basis were dashed earlier this week by Dave King, club chairman, announcing he wanted someone better. Way to motivate, Davie. And ahead of the biggest game of the season and all.

Brendan Rodgers has a great record against Rangers; he is yet to lose in nine games facing the Light Blues. Last time, that 3-2 comeback win achieved with ten men, was a close-run thing but there is a definite swagger about Celtic ahead of this one.

This will be the 51st square go in the Scottish Cup between Celtic and Rangers. Celtic have won 24, Rangers 16 with ten draws.

And the referee will be Bobby Madden. It’s his third Old Firm game, which means he ought to be well versed in not booking anyone for crunchers in the first ten minutes.

The teams are here.

Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney, Brown, Ntcham, Rogic, Forrest, McGregor, Dembélé.

Subs: Bain, Simunovic, Roberts, Kouassi, Edouard, Sinclair, Griffiths.

Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, McCrorie, Martin, John, Dorrans, Halliday, Docherty, Murphy, Morelos, Candeias.

Subs: Alnwick, Miller, Windass, Cummings, Hodson, Holt, Alves.

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Celtic are seeking the double-treble, which sounds like some kind of basketball statistic, Rangers are their own only hope of stopping the all-too unthinkable.

Preamble

Hello and welcome a game which needs no introduction. Which is just as well as, thanks to our enemies of brevity on Gold Coast, it’s not getting one.

Suffice to say that the game between these two at Ibrox a few weeks ago was one of the best I’ve seen this season. Celtic are there, Rangers are coming, and nae cu person is going to hold anything back.

Kick-off: 2.30pm BST

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