celtic-vs-rangers:-old-firm-meet-in-scottish-cup-semis

Celtic vs Rangers: Old Firm meet in Scottish Cup semis

Celtic and Rangers meet again in another Old Firm this weekend, facing off in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park.

It comes two weeks after their last encounter, with Celtic winning 2-1 at Ibrox to take a key initiative in the Scottish Premiership title race.

However, Sunday’s match comes with an entirely different prospect – the chance to reach a Scottish Cup final on Saturday May 21, taking on either Hearts or Hibernian.

Rangers and Celtic will meet in the Scottish Cup last four for the fourth time in six seasons on Sunday.

There had previously been eight Old Firm encounters in the last four, with Celtic enjoying three high-scoring wins in the early years and Rangers winning in 1900 and 1960. There were three meetings in the 1990s with the Light Blues coming out on top each time.

Celtic team news: Kyogo could return, but Giakoumakis expected to miss out

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Ahead of his side’s clash against Rangers, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou says his team are excited for their upcoming match and that the fixture ‘should be a cracker’

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou could start Kyogo Furuhashi after Giorgos Giakoumakis was all but ruled out.

Furuhashi made his comeback from a hamstring injury as a 74th-minute substitute in Celtic’s 7-0 win over St Johnstone last Saturday, after Giakoumakis went off early in the game with a minor injury in the same area.

The Greek striker is set to be the only absentee for Sunday’s Hampden encounter.

Postecoglou said: “With Giakoumakis, the prognosis wasn’t anything too serious. It will probably keep him out this weekend but we are pretty confident he will be available next weekend. David Turnbull trained and is fine, James Forrest trained and is fine as well.

Ange Postecoglou on the important of facing Rangers in a Scottish Cup semi-final…

“With my experience with these things, there’s no point trying to disguise it as something it isn’t.

“You can treat it as any other game, but I think you lose the unique aspect of the fact you want your players to embrace the big occasion and play in the big games. You don’t want them shying away from it. I don’t need to tell them that they’ll realise that themselves.

“My role in that is to make sure the focus is on the important things and also highlight the face that the key to these big games is it to be ready to take the opportunity.”

“I don’t think he [Furuhasi] is ready to play 90 or 120 (minutes) but he’s ready to play. He was back in and got some match minutes last weekend and he has had two solid weeks of training with the group.

“We train pretty hard and he has matched those levels so that means he is ready to play. Can he see out 90 or 120? Unlikely because he has been out for so long but he is ready to play and that’s the important thing.

“I’ve said for a few weeks now they we’re the healthiest we’ve been in terms of the squad and people training and I think that’s reflected in the intensity and tempo of our training, which is helping us perform well in games. We’re in a good place, but the challenges don’t stop and we want to make sure we perform again on Sunday.”

Hart excited for ‘special atmosphere’, but focused on the game

Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart has lauded the Old Firm as a “world-renowned” match and is looking forward to the Hampden Park atmosphere, but is keeping his mind focused on the task in hand.

He said: “It’s a world-renowned fixture, I don’t think there’s any question about that. It’s certainly something I would have looked at when I was nothing to do with the Scottish Premiership or Celtic, it’s certainly one that inside of football, it’s talked about.

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“It’s a bucket list fixture, but it’s a different scenario when you’re so involved in it in terms of playing and having a strong connection with the club you’re representing.

“It is special… but at the end of the day, if you want to play in these fixtures, you need to have the mindset of it’s just another game, another moment and another opportunity to play well and do some good for the club you’re representing.

“I’ve experienced some pretty special atmospheres up here so far. The Celtic-Rangers games were everything people had hyped and more. To have a 50/50 split of supporters at a great venue like Hampden is something I’m really excited to take part in. But at the end of the day, it’s about what we do on the pitch.”

In the last Old Firm – Celtic end Rangers’ unbeaten home run to move six clear

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Watch highlights of the Old Firm match between Rangers and Celtic as the away side come from behind to win 2-1 at Ibrox

Celtic moved six points clear in the Scottish Premiership title race after goals from Tom Rogic and Cameron Carter-Vickers saw them come from behind to beat Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox two weeks go.

Rangers were quick off the mark and just after captain James Tavernier curled a free-kick past the far post, Aaron Ramsey gave them the lead.

The on-loan Juventus midfielder fired home the cross from Ryan Kent on his first Old Firm appearance.

But Celtic were not fazed and Tom Rogic levelled on their first real attack in the seventh minute.

Celtic then took the lead before the break largely from a mistake by John Lundstram. The Rangers man failed to clear the danger from the free-kick and Cameron Carter-Vickers showed great composure to take the ball down and fire home.

“It’s a massive win for us, there are not many games left so every win is important,” match-winner Carter-Vickers told Sky Sports after the game.

“All season we’ve shown that character, we keep pushing and that’s what we did today. It was difficult, the fans were all screaming for them and sometimes it takes a while to adjust, but after that we played well.”

Last time out…

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between St Mirren and Rangers

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and St Johnstone

How the most recent Scottish Cup meetings between Celtic and Rangers unfolded…

Rangers 2-2 Celtic – Rangers won 5-4 on penalties (April 17, 2016 – semi-final): Championship leaders Rangers shocked Ronny Deila’s Celtic by beating the favourites on penalties after a 2-2 draw. The Hoops had easily beaten Rangers 2-0 in the previous season’s League Cup semi-finals and Gers boss Mark Warburton admitted after his side’s win that he was “irritated by people underestimating Rangers”. He added: “I read reports about them getting battered by Celtic today. Well they showed today that they’ve got quality, they’ve got the commitment and the work ethic and that gap is a lot, lot narrower than people are talking about.”

Rangers twice led during the game through Kenny Miller and Barrie McKay’s wonder-strike, with Erik Sviatchenko and Tom Rogic equalising. Rogic missed the crucial spot-kick as Gers wrapped up a 5-4 shoot-out win to set them up for the final, which they would lose against Hibernian. Celtic were well on their way to a fifth consecutive league title but manager Ronny Deila’s position came under scrutiny after the defeat. “There is a lot of emotions going on, but with bad results you of course get the questions,” he said in the immediate aftermath. “You know you are going to get that pressure all the time when you don’t get the results you wanted.” Celtic announced three days later that the Norwegian would depart at the end of the season.

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Former Celtic striker Simon Donnelly believes Celtic will get even better than the performance they put in in their 7-0 thrashing of St Johnstone

Celtic 2-0 Rangers (April 23, 2017 – semi-finals): Both sides were under new management 12 months later and it appeared the gap had widened as Celtic comfortably overcame another obstacle on their way to an invincible treble under Brendan Rodgers. Celtic were utterly dominant for the first hour as a precise finish from Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair’s penalty earned the Hoops a 2-0 victory.

Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha later admitted that assistant Helder Baptista had warned him about his players’ frame of mind during the warm-up. The Portuguese said: “He thought they were totally focused but not enjoying it. Maybe when you are not feeling that freedom, you don’t enjoy it and perform the way you need. It wasn’t a question of being frightened, it was a question of not letting things flow in the direction you need to take them.”

In contrast, Rodgers was delighted with his side’s mental approach. “We know the consequences of this game, we also know what it means to people, but you have to perform,” he said. “And you can only perform when you stay concentrated and stay calm. What we have been able to do over the course of the season is keep adding to the games when you perform under pressure.”

Celtic 4-0 Rangers (April 15, 2018 – semi-finals): There was another, temporary, incumbent in the Rangers dugout the following year as Celtic inflicted a 4-0 defeat on their way to a second consecutive treble and caretaker Light Blues boss Graeme Murty apologised to his supporters following a one-sided encounter.

First-half goals from Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor put Celtic in command and Moussa Dembele and Olivier Ntcham both added penalties after Ross McCrorie was sent off for the Ibrox side. Murty, who substituted midfielder Andy Halliday immediately after McGregor’s 38th-minute goal, said: “It is a lonely place standing on the sideline when that is going on. But I don’t think words is enough to convey how I am feeling right now.”

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon admitted he had been happy to face a brief second-half flurry from Rangers. “We did go through 10 minutes where we did struggle to get our foot on the ball and during that time I had to make a few saves,” he said. “It’s always nice to contribute to a win by making saves like that. I was quite happy with the workload, especially after going an hour with not doing very much at all.”