(c) Dirk Vorderstraße (dirkvorderstrasse, flickr)

Old Firm blues for Rangers

Celtic 2-0 Rangers.

Celtic today progressed to the final of the QTS Scottish League Cup Final after defeating Old Firm rivals Rangers 2-0 at Hampden Park. First-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons helped their side hold off a Rangers team who never really seemed able to get a grip on the game.

1,008 days ago, Celtic beat Rangers 3-0 in the last Old Firm derby of the 2011-12 season. Just days before this game, Rangers officially called in the administrators. Since then, they have been forced to work their way through the Scottish professional league structure whilst Celtic have relaxed at the top of the Premiership.

Rangers last took to the pitch on January 10th when Nicky Law’s header was enough to give his side in front of 3,012 against Alloa Athletic whilst Celtic were in preparations for the upcoming Europa League tie against Inter Millan. Could Rangers pull off an upset?

From the off Celtic were looking to attack, making the most of the pitch before it started to cut up after the pressure put on it by Dundee United’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen in the other semi-final the day before. An exciting team including the likes of Kris Commons and Leigh Griffiths meant that Celtic were looking to put pressure on the opposition’s occasionally lacklustre defence.

With less than 10 minutes gone, Rangers had failed to make the most of a free kick attempt before Celtic made the most of a strong counter-attack to get into the right area of the pitch. A perfectly timed cross by Stefan Johansen gave striker Griffiths ample time to put a close-range header past Steve Simonsen to give Celtic the early lead.

Rangers were looking to go on the attack, however, the strong Celtic defence meant that Craig Gordon was yet to be properly tested, whilst down the other end of the slowly-disintegrating Hampden turf, another goal for the hoops seemed almost inevitable. Could Rangers get a foothold in the game?

The answer: No. Well not yet anyway… With 30 minutes gone after a persistent attack by Celtic, Scott Brown used his strength to hold on, then flick the ball back to Kris Commons just outside the box who sent it right back in the direction of the goal with Simonsen powerless to stop it. Celtic now looked comfortable at 2-0.

Celtic were still in control with Griffiths and Stefan Johansen providing two chances, one stopped by referee Craig Thompson and the other from a last-ditch Simonsen save. Rangers, meanwhile, were ineffective with the ball come the close of the half with Lee Miller and Steven Smith unable to make contact with any cross.

Half time: Rangers 0 2 Celtic

Despite pundits predicting Celtic would run riot in the 2nd half, it was not to be as Rangers were now looking to make the most of some added possession. Their best attempt came after 50 minutes when Miller’s cross to Kyle Hutton running just ahead of its intended target. Celtic were still holding strong.

From then on, the game, despite the tense atmosphere, started to settle down with chances for both teams becoming increasingly limited.

Apart from a few short scuffles between players come the final minutes of the game, yet another poor attempt from a free kick from Rangers capped off what had been a largely uneventful 2nd half and a fairly disappointing game from a Rangers, although the final scoreline was one that could, and should have been a lot worse.

Rangers now have to focus on closing the 16 point gap with Hearts in the Championship whilst for Celtic, yet more Premiership glory, progression in the Scottish Cup and Europa League and now, a League Cup Final with Dundee United await the men from Parkhead.

Final score: Rangers 0 2 Celtic

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Ruairidh Campbell
Based in the Scottish Borders/Glasgow, Ruairidh has written extensively on everything from rugby to politics with work published in publications including the Scottish Rugby Union's website, Scottish Field Magazine and Edinburgh Rugby's match-day programmes.
Ruairidh Campbell

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