Celtic and Rangers met at Hampden Park on Sunday afternoon for one of Scotland’s cherished baubles – The Betfred Cup
Old heroes Ally McCoist and Chris Sutton paraded the cup around the place, and it was a soggy old day in Glasgow. Nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the assembled faithful though, for one of world sport’s most compelling contests.
The calm before the storm …..
Early doors – Rangers threaten down the left, and are pressing high. Celtic soon hit back with a sustained period of possession of their own. End-to-end stuff, snappy tackles – everything you’d expect, frankly.
Two points only separate these two in the Scottish Premier – and only a brave man indeed would predict the eventual outcome of this one. Celtic’s Fraser Forster is by some distance though the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first fifteen minutes, as Ryan Jack forces a very smart save.
Five early corners from Rangers. They’re playing with real intent and passion. They’ve not won the League Cup since 2011, but Gerrard’s men seem intent on putting that right. Celtic are looking a little flustered at the back – and on 40 minutes a wonderful chance presents itself to Morelos, who brings another point-blank save from the giant Cetic shot-stopper.
The rain is persistent, and the pitch is getting slower and heavier. It’s going to be a stamina-test and then some. Celtic have barely mustered a shot on target in a first-half Rangers have really dominated – but crucially they don’t have a score to show for it. Forster is having a stormer – he’s had to.
Possession stats are tight, but Rangers have had 5 shots on target, and, as stated, the Hoops have yet to manage a single one.
HT Celtic 0 Rangers 0
Rangers will want more of the same please – while Neil Lennon will have been trying to inspire Celtic out of their first-half lethargy. More frustration for the ‘Gers – they’re swarming all over Celtic. Amazing to think that there’s still no score.
60th minute – you guessed it – totally against the run of play, Celtic take the lead. Christopher Jullien sidefoots home from a teasing left-wing cross. So, so tough on Rangers. Can they respond? No VAR up here today – was he offside?
Celtic 1 Rangers 0
More drama – Morelos is felled in the box, Frimpong gets his marching orders, then the fouled player can’t beat the incredible Forster from 12 yards. VAR again would have had a field day regarding the goalkeeper moving off his line – just saying ….
Ten-man Celtic are now trying to pull off the smash-and-grab of the decade, arguably. Great tension.
69th minute – Johnston is clean through for the Celts, and he misses an absolute sitter. Wow. Jermaine Defoe meanwhile is being readied by Gerrard. Last 15 minutes. Unbearable, frankly, for both sets of supporters.
Celtic, despite being down to ten men, are pressing. Morelos meanwhile is lucky to avoid the referee’s ire after a highly questionnable clash. No-one was leaving early.
Colombian Morelos was at the heart of everything for Rangers all afternoon, and could have had a hatful – but for Forster. 6 mins added time are to be played. Who will be singing in the rain shortly? The aforementioned Morelos cuts through on the right and flashes one across goal, just centimetres wide of the far post. Heartbreak in blue. It just won’t go in.
Final seconds – and Celtic see it through. Ten domestic cups in a row. They’ve pulled off a sensational win, while Rangers must be thinking how on earth they didn’t win this one – and with something to spare at that.
Forster was quite magnificent, and kept Rangers at bay almost single-handed. A tremendous occasion, fantastic atmosphere, unrelenting drama.
Celtic are Betfred Cup winners!
Final Score – Celtic 1 Rangers 0