ST JOHNSTONE’S Cup expert Shaun Rooney has warned Celtic they will get it tough when they meet the holders in the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final at Hampden in November.
The towering defender, who scored in both his side’s Hampden silverware successes last season, was on target again as Callum Davidson’s men overcame Dundee 2-0 at Dens Park to book yet another trip to the national stadium.
Ange Postecoglou’s side beat Championship outfit Raith Rovers 3-0 with goals from Filipe Jota, Liel Abada and David Turnbull at Parkhead last night to seal a place in the ballot which was made at the Glasgow ground by ex-Hoops goal star John Hartson.
While the Celts were paired with the Perth outfit, Rangers were drawn to face Jack Ross’ Hibs who beat Dundee United 3-1 at Tannadice with Scott Allan playing a starring role.
SMILING SAINTS…goalscorers Ali Crawford and Shaun Rooney talks to the media after the win at Dundee.
Goals from Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos fired Steven Gerrard’s side through as they eased past Livingston 2-0 with the West Lothian team given no chance of adding the Gers to a memorable Old Firm double win after the 1-0 weekend victory over the Hoops.
It will be an intriguing encounter between Postecoglou’s outfit and the McDiarmid Park club who won the competition for the first time last season after Celtic had claimed the previous four.
After the Saints’ triumph at Tayside on Wednesday night, Rooney said: “Hopefully we can do it again. I would love to see it and retain the trophy.
“The fans missed out on so much last season, but we wanted to prove we could do it all again this season with them there.
“So far we have – we’re back at Hampden for a semi-final – and, hopefully, we can take them on another trip to the Final.
“We go into Cup games with the same attitude as in the league. We always want to win games – and get the win bonus!”
JOTA THE FIRST…Portuguese winger Filipe Jota celebrates his first goal at Parkhead with theopener against Raith Rovers.
Postecoglou, though, has his eyes on his first prize since arriving at Parkhead as Neil Lennon’s successor in June.
The Greek-Australian, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Obviously, it is pleasing that we are in the semis and it should be a great occasion. St Johnstone obviously did really well in the Cups last year and will be good opponents.
“I thought we did the job we needed to. We controlled the game against Raith Rovers from the early parts and got our goals really well. For the most part, we did the job we needed to do.
“It wasn’t anything too exciting, but, at the same time, the players worked hard and we got our victory.”
Meanwhile, Hibs are shaping up for the head to head with Rangers in reasonable shape and the Easter Road fans will be delighted midfielder Allan’s proposed move to St Mirren last month fell through.
The former Celtic player netted his first goal since his return in the 22nd minute after setting up Joe Newell for the early opener.
The game was effectively over when Martin Boyle slotted in a third from the penalty spot in firs-half stoppage time.
Peter Pawlett hit the home side’s consolation effort just before the hour mark.
BLUE HEAVEN…Ianis Hagi was praised by Gary McAllister.
Ibrox No.2 Gary McAllister saluted substitute Ianis Hagi for helping the side unlock the stubborn Livi’s rearguard when he came at the interval with the game scoreless.
“Sometimes you see players who are really busy, running from box to box. But sometimes it’s actually advantageous to stand still and get your positioning right.
“He has learned from the fact you don’t have to be flying around the pitch to make an impact.”
PREMIER SPORTS LEAGUE CUP SEMI-FINALS
Rangers v Hibs
Celtic v St Johnstone
Ties due on the weekend of November 20/21