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If ever 90 minutes summed up a season. A season, that is, that Rangers do not want to end. Steven Gerrard’s hopes of claiming a domestic double remain alive after Celtic were swatted aside in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup.
Rangers were more aggressive and more purposeful than their city rivals in every area of the pitch. Celtic’s lame approach – and it must be recognised they had umpteen chances to score – was summed up by the dismal 80th minute penalty by Odsonne Édouard, which Allan McGregor could pretty comfortably bat away to safety. The scale of upheaval as necessary at Celtic, who want to appoint Eddie Howe as the permanent successor to Neil Lennon, has never looked more stark.
Steve Davis’s overhead kick set Rangers on course to victory. The Northern Ireland international pounced after a Joe Aribo shot was deflected into his path by Kristoffer Ajer. The attack had been started by Ryan Kent, who tormented Celtic throughout the opening period.
Celtic’s finest spell of the first half saw Édouard, Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and Stephen Welsh pass up opportunities. The visitors paid a price for such wastefulness as Aribo’s trickery preceded a cross which Jonjoe Kenny flicked into his own goal. Kent was been ready to pounce had Kenny not intervened.
Édouard, David Turnbull and Mohamed Elyounoussi spurned chances – at least two of them glaring – to hand Celtic a second-half lifeline. Those in green and white, under the interim guidance of John Kennedy, never looked to have full belief that salvation was possible. After Aribo bundled over Leigh Griffiths, Édouard’s spot kick typified Celtic’s lack of purpose. Celtic are now resigned to a first season without a trophy since 2009/10; Rangers, an immovable domestic force, are understandably the firm Scottish Cup favourites.
Full report to follow