Celtic moved to within 90 minutes of a piece of football history at Hampden this afternoon when they edged out Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final thanks to a first-half Jota goal.

The Viaplay Cup winners, who are 13 points clear at the top of the cinch Premiership with five matches remaining and will lift the Scottish title if they defeat Hearts at Tynecastle a week today, are bidding to complete an eighth treble.

If they overcome their Championship opponents Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the national stadium at the start of June they will record a feat that no other club on the planet has ever managed. 

If Ange Postecoglou’s charges, who stretched their unbeaten run against their city rivals to five games today, perform with the same level of commitment and intelligence when they return to Mount Florida their supporters will have a momentous triumph to celebrate.

Michael Beale’s men fought from kick-off to the final whistle. Fashion Sakala forced two saves from Joe Hart and struck the side netting and James Tavernier hit the post and headed just inches over the crossbar. But once again their lack of ruthlessness in the final third cost them dear. They will finish the season trophyless as a result.

Here are five things we learned from the latest Old Firm showdown.


The Parkhead club have performed far better under Postecoglou than they did during the course of this frenetic derby. They spent long spells on the back foot defending their goal desperately. That Cameron Carter-Vickers was named Man of the Match at the end told a story. But they did what all good teams do and took care of business.

Still, Celtic’s players also tested Allan McGregor on numerous occasions and when their big chance came just before half-time they took it. They will be massive favourites to complete a clean sweep of domestic silverware for the fifth time in seven years in the final.

Caley Thistle have denied them glory in cups and the league in the past and have even prevented them from doing a treble before. They have, too, beaten both Livingston and Kilmarnock in this campaign. The threat they pose cannot and will not be disregarded.

Callum McGregor and his team mates, though, will fancy their chances of prevailing and capping off another outstanding season in the final on June 3. They should have too much in every area to slip up on this evidence. 


Postecoglou handed both Reo Hatate, who had been sidelined for six weeks, and Jota, who had been out for three weeks, starts in midfield and out wide respectively despite their lack of game time of late.

Both men are automatic selections when fully fit. But what shape would the pair be in after such lengthy lay-offs? Much hinged on how the duo performed.

There was widespread rejoicing among the Celtic support when Aaron Mooy made the Old Firm game at Parkhead three weeks ago. But the Australian internationalist laboured and was replaced after an hour. Could his club mates make more of an impact?

Hatate was far from his best in the middle of the park. Jota, though, was a box of tricks out wide and through the middle and showed great awareness to break the deadlock. The Portuguese winger has now netted three times in this world-famous fixture this term. He is a man for the big occasion and more than justified his selection.


Hopes were high among many members of the Rangers support that Beale would prefer John Souttar to Ben Davies if Connor Goldson returned to the fray.

The former Liverpool man gifted the league leaders a goal in the 3-2 defeat his side suffered in the cinch Premiership match in the East End of Glasgow three weeks ago with some slack play at the back.  

Goldson, as expected, came back in at centre half. But Davies retained his place. Could his compatriot silence his doubters and keep Kyogo Furuhashi, the most lethal predator in the country, at bay? He was far, far better than he had been last time around.

But more dozy defending cost Rangers. At the opening goal, they waited for the whistle to blow for a free-kick. Ryan Kent ran away from the ball, Borna Barisic stopped in his tracks and Tavernier fell asleep. Daizen Maeda nipped in, curled an outstanding cross in to Jota and the winger made no mistake.


With referee Willie Collum suffering a calf strain during the warm-up, fourth official Don Robertson was drafted in to oversee proceedings. Taking charge of an encounter between these age-old adversaries is never an easy task. But coming in so late was far from ideal.

Robertson stepped up with aplomb. He was correct to allow play to continue when Matt O’Riley was barged over by Nico Raskin before the opening goal because Celtic still had advantage. He was, too, right to ignore Rangers’ appeals for a penalty just before half-time when Borna Barisic went down in the opposition area. He had a fine afternoon.


When is Scottish football going to get to grips with its growing pyro problem?

You could have put your mortgage on flares, smoke canisters and strobes being set off both before and during this game. There were, after all, large scale displays by the hard core elements of both supports at both of the Viaplay Cup semi-finals and the final earlier this year.

But not enough, if anything at all, was done by the authorities to prevent Rangers and Celtic fans smuggling them into the ground. The ground was filled with thick plumes of green and white and red, white and blue smoke ahead of hostilities and kick-off was delayed for several minutes as a result.

It was certainly spectacular. However, the stewards who were stationed at the front of the East and West Stands were fortunate not to be struck by lit devices, which burn at temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, as they were recklessly hurled onto the track.

Affirmative action really must be taken before somebody is seriously injured.