Rangers will join fellow Championship side Hibernian in the Scottish Cup Final after they defeated city neighbours Celtic on penalties in what was a ding dong of a Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park.
Kenny Miller opened the scoring for Rangers before Celtic substitute Erik Sviatchenko equalised early in the second half. With no further goals from either side, the game went to extra time.
Barrie McKay’s stunning strike gave Rangers an early lead in the first half of Extra Time, before Tom Rogic pulled Celtic level once more. Neither side could be separated and so the game went to penalties.
After the first six rounds of penalties took place, Nicky Law struck home his penalty which left Rogic to score otherwise Celtic would be knocked out of their third cup semi-final under Ronny Deila in three years. To the agony of Celtic fans and the ecstasy of the blue half of Hampden, Rogic woefully blasted his shot high above the crossbar and so Rangers march on to the final.
Despite the pre-match talk of Celtic having more experience in their ranks that have played in such games, Mark Warburton’s ‘inexperienced’ charges were far from fazed on the big stage and took the game to Celtic early on.
It was end-to-end stuff at the national stadium, and the game exploded into life when Kenny Miller latched onto a deflected through ball to fire past Craig Gordon from close range to give Rangers the lead.
That goal gave Rangers a massive boost and they continued to enjoy the majority of possession, but on the stroke of half time Celtic had a huge chance to equalise. Leigh Griffiths turned inside the Rangers box before hitting his shot off the post and the rebound fell kindly to on-loan Man City midfielder Patrick Roberts. With the goal wide open it would have been easier for Roberts to hit the back of the net, but somehow the Englishman side footed his shot into the side netting much to the disbelief of the worldwide audience watching on.
Chris Iwelumo no longer has the tag of missing the worst sitter in the history of Hampden Park.
The Championship title winners grew in confidence and enjoyed the bulk of possession but Celtic had a chance to equalise close to half-time when a Leigh Griffiths shot hit the post and rebounded to Patrick Roberts. The Manchester City loanee, who had been one of Celtic’s better players, found the side-netting when it seemed easier to score.
Into the second half and Celtic came out of the traps, and after a succession of corners they secured the all-important equaliser as substitute Erik Sviatchenko bulleted his header past Foderingham to even things up.
Rather than building on that goal, Celtic seemed to revert back to their first half form and despite a number of shots from distance they failed to test Foderingham in the Rangers goal.
With the full-time whistle sounding, neither side could be separated and so the tie went to extra time.
Once again Rangers took the game to Celtic in the first half of extra-time and they took the lead once more thanks to a goal that was worthy of winning any game. Midfielder Barrie McKay [who was deemed not good enough for the first team last season under Ally McCoist and has been a revelation for Rangers under Warburton]drove towards the Celtic goal and fired an unstoppable strike into the top corner of Celtic’s goal with Craig Gordon flapping at fresh air.
There is no denying that McKay’s strike was top drawer and it look destined to be the winning goal as Celtic continued to produce nothing but disappointment for their supporters.
Minutes after the restart, Celtic pulled level again as Kieran Tierney [one of the few Celtic players to receive pass marks]surged down the left flank before cutting a ball back to Rogic who hit his shot past Foderingham.
Celtic could have nicked the game at the end of extra time after Rogic was fouled some 25 yards out from goal. Leigh Griffiths, who was missing for much of the game along with many of the other Celtic players, struck his set piece off the woodwork before it rebounded off the back of Foderingham and out for a corner kick.
That was the last chance of the game as referee Craig Thomson sounded full time and with that penalties.
The penalty shootout was as nerve-wrangling as the 120 minutes previous, it had everything from great saves to superbly taken spot kicks to abysmal strikes. But with it heading to sudden death and Nicky Law converting his penalty, it left Aussie Tom Rogic to step up and deliver. However, his lackadaisical run up culminated in a woeful attempt which soured high over Foderingham’s goal to send the Rangers players, management and fans delirious.
Rangers, deservedly, will now face fellow Championship side Hibernian in the Scottish Cup Final at the end of May, the first ever Scottish cup final contested between two sides outwith the top flight.