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BATTLE OF THE SAINTS, HIBS v DUNDEE UNITED, OLD FIRM ‘NO’ TO CUP FINAL SWITCH

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THERE will be a battle of the Saints in the Scottish Cup semi-final with St Mirren earning the right to take on Rangers’ conquerors St Johnstone.

Hibs will face Dundee United, shock 3-0 victors over Aberdeen, in the other last-four encounter scheduled for next month.

The Paisley club set up a confrontation with Callum Davidson’s Betfred League Cup winners by beating Kilmarnock 5-4 on penalties at Rugby Park following a 3-3 extra-time draw last night.

The last-four ties will be played at Hampden on the weekend of May 8/9.

Kyle McAllister scored the deciding spot-kick as Jim Goodwin’s men battled through. A mistake by Killie ‘keeper Colin Doyle in the 25th minute allowed a harmless cross from Ilkay Durmus to drop into the net. However, a header from loan defender Zeno Ibsen Rossi in the 36th minute levelled the tie and a Greg Kiltie strike gave Tommy Wright’s outfit the interval lead.

The hosts, without the injured Kyle Lafferty, had several chances to go further ahead, but with six minutes remaining Saints skipper Joe Shaughnessy headed in an equaliser to set up extra-time. Killie were forced to play most of it with 10 men after substitute Nicke Kabamba limped off with the Ayrshire side having used all four stand-by players.

Ross Millen scored from the spot in the 101st minute to put them ahead before Jamie McGrath did likewise to set up a penalty-kick shoot-out.

 

CUP THAT CHEERS…St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin has his eyes on the Hampden prize.

Paisley keeper Jak Alnwick made the only save from Rory McKenzie, Killie’s second, as Gary Dicker, Mitch Pinnock, Millen and Aaron Tshibola scored with McGrath, Cameron MacPherson, Colin Quaner, Shaughnessy and McAllister making no mistake to put the Buddies into the last four and an intriguing meeting with the Perth club.

Meanwhile, Celtic and Rangers have knocked back an approach to stage this season’s Scottish Cup Final, according to a report in the Daily Record.

The SFA reportedly approached the Hoops and the Govan club over the possibility of switching the showpiece occasion from Hampden to Parkhead or Ibrox in a bid to get some fans through the turnstiles. However, Celtic declined and cited plans to carry out vital work on the stadium during the summer and their Glasgow neighbours also had to reject the bid.

The match will now go ahead at the national stadium on May 22 without fans. The ground will be under the auspices of UEFA for the Euro Finals in June.

Twelve thousand supporters will be able to get in to see Scotland take on the Czech Republic on June 14 and Steve Clarke’s players then move to Wembley for the clash against England four days later.

GHOST GAME…Hampden will be deserted for Scottish Cup Final.

They return to Hampden on June 20 to play Croatia.

With Celtic carrying out improvements and Rangers unable to accommodate the request, there were hopes the match could be played elsewhere to allow the fans into the ground.

Tynecastle was also suggested as a potential venue, while nearby Murrayfield has also been ruled out due to a clash with the Pro-14 Rainbow Cup.

Celtic Park last played host in 2014 when St Johnstone beat Dundee United to lift the trophy for the first time in their history and both have reached the final four this year. Ibrox hosted the 1997 final which saw Kilmarnock defeat Falkirk.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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