Celtic will play Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup final after they beat Rangers 1-0 in an Old Firm semi-final at Hampden Park.
A typically high-tempo Glasgow derby saw Jota head in the only goal of the game just before half-time to keep Celtic’s treble hopes alive.
Rangers had chances to level in the second half, with James Tavernier hitting the post, but they were unable to find a way past Joe Hart on Sunday.
Just one win away from sealing the Scottish Premiership, Ange Postecoglou’s side further cemented their superiority over their rivals with a fourth win in five Old Firm derbies this season.
Jota’s header #CELRAN | #ScottishCup | #COYBIGpic.twitter.com/IMmFvo2LWM
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) April 30, 2023
Rangers nearly took an early lead as the pre-match smoke cleared, with Nicolas Raskin seeing a shot from 25 yards out deflected just wide of the near post.
Celtic started to take control and tested Allan McGregor with shots from Alastair Johnson and Jota, while Rangers lost Malik Tillman to a hamstring injury just after the half-hour mark.
The Bhoys were ahead in the 42nd minute after Rangers’ defence went to sleep and allowed Daizen Maeda to capitalise on a loose ball and cross from the right for Jota to head in unmarked.
Michael Beale’s men started the second half brightly and Cameron Carter-Vickers had to react quickly to deny Alfredo Morelos a tap-in, before Scott Arfield forced a good save from Hart low to his right.
Tavernier hit the inside of the post with a smart effort before Fashion Sakala put the rebound into the side-netting, while Arfield hit a left-footed shot over late on as Rangers just could not find the elusive equaliser.
What does it mean? Yet another day for the Bhoys
Their draw against Motherwell last week brought a 17-game winning streak to an end, but Celtic showed no lack of confidence here.
They had to hold on in the second half but were dominant in the first, and should probably have been more than a goal ahead at the break.
Postecoglou’s men had fewer shots than their opponents (9-13) but had a clearer plan and executed it pretty much to perfection.
Gers can’t get past Carter-Vickers
The former Tottenham defender was imperious at Hampden Park, blocking and heading everything Rangers could throw at him in the second half.
Things may not have worked out for him in England, but the 25-year-old has made a real home for himself at Celtic and was the best player on the park.
Less is Morelos
Despite his significant contributions at Rangers in recent years, Morelos always seems to struggle against Celtic, and this game was no different.
The Colombian barely had any sight of goal, kept running into blind alleys and was eventually hooked for Ianis Hagi in the 83rd minute with his team still needing a goal.
It’s back to the Scottish Premiership next Sunday as Rangers host Aberdeen while Celtic visit Hearts, where they can clinch the title with a win.
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