Dem­bele late show sees Celtic beat Rangers

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

GLAS­GOW: Moussa Dem­bele grabbed a late win­ner as Celtic clinched a place in the Scot­tish League Cup fi­nal with a 1-0 de­feat of Old Firm ri­vals Rangers at Glas­gow’s Ham­p­den Park yes­ter­day.

Rangers looked a much im­proved side from the one ham­mered 5-1 at Park­head in their last meet­ing with arch-ri­vals Celtic in Au­gust, but it was the Hoops who had the best chances, with Erik Svi­atchenko’s header ruled out for a foul be­fore Scott Sin­clair crashed a free-kick off the bar.

The game looked to be head­ing for ex­tra­time be­fore Dem­bele, who grabbed a hat­trick on his Old Firm de­but, added the fin­ish­ing touch to sub­sti­tute Leigh Grif­fiths’s cross in the 87th minute.

Celtic will join Aberdeen in the fi­nal after the Dons de­feated Cham­pi­onship side Greenock Mor­ton 2-0 in Satur­day’s first semi­fi­nal. Rangers had se­lected full-backs Lee Hodson and James Tav­ernier down the right to deal with the pace of Sin­clair and Kieran Tier­ney, which caused them so much dam­age in their Au­gust maul­ing by Celtic.

After a fran­tic start it was the Hoops who threat­ened first with Sin­clair cut­ting in from the left to pick out Tom Rogic, whose de­flected strike landed on the roof of the net.

Rangers were ap­peal­ing for a penalty mo­ments later when Bar­rie McKay went down un­der a chal­lenge from Jozo Simunovic but ref­eree Craig Thom­son in­stead booked him for sim­u­la­tion, much to the fury of the Rangers play­ers.

A slack pass was then in­ter­cepted by Dem­bele, who played Sin­clair clean through, but Matt Gilks raced off his line to block his shot with his legs. Gilks breathed a sigh of relief when his at­tempted pass went straight to Rogic in the box, but the Aus­tralian couldn’t find the tar­get with his ef­fort.

The Rangers keeper then re­deemed him­self as he made a point-blank save to keep out a close-range header from Dem­bele. The French striker was then lucky to avoid a book­ing for div­ing after he threw him­self to the ground in the hope of a penalty as ref­eree Thom­son kept his cards in his pocket.

Celtic had the ball in the net three min­utes after the break when Svi­atchenko headed Sin­clair’s cross past Gilks but Thom­son ad­judged that the Dane had fouled Rangers de­fender Clint Hill in the build-up.

Sin­clair and Rogic then com­bined to carve the Rangers de­fence open but Gilks blocked the English winger’s ef­fort.

Rangers had yet to threaten Craig Gor­don’s goal but the best chance of the match then fell to Ja­son Holt when Tav­ernier found him in the mid­dle but his goal-bound ef­fort was well blocked by Simunovic with McKay send­ing the fol­low-up straight into the hands of the Hoops keeper.

Only the cross­bar pre­vented Celtic from tak­ing the lead in the 69th minute when Sin­clair’s curl­ing free-kick rat­tled the up­right.

With the game head­ing to ex­tra-time Celtic made the break­through as Grif­fiths got be­hind Lee Wal­lace and his cross for the right was prod­ded home by Dem­bele un­der pres­sure from Rob Kier­nan.

ROT­TER­DAM: Ajax Am­s­ter­dam’s Lasse Schone (R) fights for the ball with Feyeno­ord Rot­ter­dam’s Karim El Ah­madi dur­ing the Dutch Ere­di­visie foot­ball match be­tween Feyeno­ord Rot­ter­dam and Ajax Am­s­ter­dam at De Kuip in Rot­ter­dam yes­ter­day.

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