Cup will go to Championship team
Celtic pay the penalty as Rangers book final place
A dramatic match, which ended 1-1 in normal time and 2-2 after extra time, was finally settled with a 5-4 spot-kick victory for the Ibrox club.
The result will mean the first time in the history of the competition the final on 21 May will be contested by two sides from outside the top flight following Hibernian’s victory over Premier League Dundee United yesterday, also on penalties.
Tom Rogic’s missed kick for the Premier League leaders settled the tie in favour of Rangers who will now have the opportunity to add the Scottish Cup to their Championship title.
Rangers secured victory despite having four regular first-team players absent through injury or because of being cup-tied.
The result is a personal triumph for manager Mark Warburton in his first Old Firm match and is likely to intensify interest in him from other clubs.
Warburton has already admitted he will need at least five new players to compete effectively next season. But this victory is bound to shorten the Ibrox club’s odds on competing with Celtic for the top prizes.
After the match he said the club could not afford to be complacent and the board would have to delve into the transfer market.
“There’s still a gap there, don’t be fooled,” he said. “The better team won on the day but Celtic are packed with internationals. Nothing’s changed from the previous message. We have to work hard to close the gap. But today showed that the gap is nowhere near as big as people made out.
“I read some outrageous report about how many Celtic would score and how it would be a cricket score. Hopefully we’ve shown the gap is a lot narrower.”
Ronnie Deila, his opposite number at Parkhead is now facing very different interest, particularly if Celtic fail to win the Premiership title. It is understood he will stay in post at least until the end of the season.
Despite playing in different leagues, the match proved to be one of the more competitive and thrilling Old Firm matches.
Rangers belied their lower status by playing with a style that even Celtic supporters were forced to admire, many taking to Twitter to offer compliments about the way Warburton has got his team playing.
Kenny Miller put Rangers ahead in the first half of normal time and Erik Sviatchenko equalised for Celtic soon into the second half.
Barrie McKay, who went on to be named Man of the Match, fired Rangers back into the lead in extra time before a second equaliser for Celtic from Rogic.