League Cup Semi-Final
Dembele stuns Rangers with late winner
Moussa Dembele once again put Rangers to the sword with a goal three minutes from time to ensure Celtic’s place in the League Cup final.
The Frenchman pounced on a Leigh Griffiths cross to crush Rangers for the second time this season.
He notched a hat-trick for the reigning Champions in their 5-1 thumping of the Ibrox side in their first league encounter this season.
Celtic lacked their usual cutting edge in a tense Hampden semi-final though they felt harshly treated when referee Craig Thomson disallowed defender Erik Sviatchenko’s headed goal for a foul on Lee Wallace.
Rangers had their first shot on target in the 50th minute from James Tavernier but this was far from the one-way traffic of the league encounter, with the Ibrox team putting up a stronger defensive display and goalkeeper Matt Gilks in good form.
With extra-time beckoning, Dembele scored with a back-heel from a low cross delivered by Griffiths with the outside of his left boot.
Speaking after the match, Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers said: “A wonderful advert for the game here in Scotland. I thought we thoroughly deserved to win it.
“We created a host of chances . Our defensive aggression was very good. I think you seen today the level the players are at fitness-wise. Their power and aggression in defending was there to see.
“I think we stopped Rangers building which is a key part of their game. We were able to create lots of chances but unfortunately didn’t take them, but we got there in the end.
“Overall a great victory for us.”
His Rangers’ counterpart Mark Warburton took a different view. “The gap is a lot narrower. Our work in the last few weeks is hopefully there for all to see,” he said.
“We were a little bit disappointed with the play in the second half, we went long too often. But that’s the time of thing that happens in a game with a lot of emotion.
“It was an open second half, chances at both ends and unfortunately it went the wrong way. There were a lot of positives to take out of today.”
In the final on 27 November Celtic will face Aberdeen who overcame Morton 2-0 in the other semi-final.
Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney, Brown, Bitton (Armstrong 63′), Forrest (Gamboa 90+1), Rogic (Griffiths 70′), Sinclair, Dembele
Booked: Brown 82′, Griffiths 90′
Rangers: Gilks, Hodson, Kiernan, Hill, Wallace, Windass (Garner 70′), Halliday, Holt, Tavernier, Miller (Waghorn 70′), McKay (Dodoo 78′)
Booked: McKay 15′