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Hibernian 2 Celtic 4: Moussa Dembele double sends Hoops into Betfred Scottish League Cup final

An improbable double act saw Celtic into the final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup – against either Rangers or Motherwell, who meet at Hampden Park on Sunday – and to their 60th successive unbeaten domestic fixture. Against a Hibernian side whose late rally put the issue briefly in doubt, Mikael Lustig, who had not scored in 21 prior appearances for Celtic this season, found the net twice before the interval to set the Hoops. The victory was secured by two strikes from Moussa Dembele, whose previous contribution amounted to one goal from seven outings. Hibs produced their best spell in the second half, when their ambitions were resuscitated by a penalty kick converted by Anthony Stokes and a cleverly worked goal scored by Oliver Shaw, a product of the club’s youth academy. “We gave them a two-goal start and you can't do that and the manner we gave away the goals was disappointing,” said Neil Lennon, the Hibs manager. “We improved in the second half, but overall I was pleased with the way we played and there were some good performances out there. Dembele scores the fourth goal Credit:  REUTERS “It gave us a lot to do in the second half, but we had a real good go at it. It is just sloppiness of the goals that were the difference.” When the teams met previously in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Parkhead, Lennon observed that Celtic could be sluggish after a demanding European engagement in midweek. In the lead-up to this game, however, the Easter Road manager played a different card, declaring that he expected his former team to display a strong reaction to their 3-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena. Certainly, Brendan Rodgers did not feel obliged to refresh his ranks other than to leave Cristian Gamboa and Olivier Ntcham on the bench, with Nir Bitton and Callum McGregor given a start. Hibs, too, showed two changes as Gray and Brandon Barker replaced Whittaker and Boyle, who played in the previous weekend’s 1-0 home league defeat by Aberdeen. What became evident immediately was that, even if they felt that they might suffer the effects of their trip to Germany, Celtic were not about to save themselves for later. They pressed from the start to such effect that they won their first corner kick within 90 seconds from a Stuart Armstrong shot which deflected wide, despite Laidlaw’s attempt to stop the ball going out of play. Mikael Lustig also scored a brace Credit:  Action Plus Hibs looked discomfited by Celtic’s passing game but Brandon Barker raised the spirits of the Easter Road faithful with a powerful run which took him beyond the Hoops’ back line, though he could not find a colleague with the final ball. The outlook seemed to have brightened for Hibs when Anthony Stokes surged clear on the right of the Celtic box to find Barker on the other side with a driven cross, but the on-loan Manchester City midfielder slashed a shot into the side netting when the better option would have been a return cross to the Irish striker. The optimism of the Edinburgh contingent was quashed swiftly by Lustig’s first intervention.   A chip from Stuart Armstrong was headed by Dedryck Boyata into the path of Lustig, whose shot found the mark beyond Ross Laidlaw, but the goalkeeper could have done better than get a frail hand to the ball. Laidlaw will feel even more uncomfortable if he watches replays of Lustig’s second, although his partner in dismay should be David Gray, who allowed the Swede to spin off him for a low drive which, again, was allowed by the keeper to spin off both his gloves into the roof of the net. Lennon replaced Gray and Bartley with Whittaker and Boyle at half time and Hibs looked a more competitive unit. That said, they were fortunate to be awarded a penalty for a challenge on Boyle by Boyata, who appeared to have taken the ball off the Hibs man’s toe, not that the niceties were of concern to Stokes, who sent Craig Gordon the wrong way from the spot. Rodgers, too, made decisive changes, one of which was to send on Dembele for Leigh Griffiths. The French striker put Celtic 3-1 ahead midway through the half when a miskick by Scott Sinclair fell perfectly for him to shoot home from a dozen yards out. The deficit was reduced again by Shaw, with a deft finish from Whittaker’s shrewd prompt, but Dembele put the issue beyond dispute when Boyle was ambushed at a Hibs corner kick and Celtic swept downfield for an unopposed clinching fourth goal. “To play in the Champions League, then to score four goals here against difficult opponents was very pleasing and to get to 60 games without a domestic defeat is really incredible,” said Rodgers. “The players’ mentality is excellent.”

Hibernian 2 Celtic 4: Moussa Dembele double sends Hoops into Betfred Scottish League Cup final

Hibernian 2 Celtic 4: Moussa Dembele double sends Hoops into Betfred Scottish League Cup final

An improbable double act saw Celtic into the final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup – against either Rangers or Motherwell, who meet at Hampden Park on Sunday – and to their 60th successive unbeaten domestic fixture. Against a Hibernian side whose late rally put the issue briefly in doubt, Mikael Lustig, who had not scored in 21 prior appearances for Celtic this season, found the net twice before the interval to set the Hoops. The victory was secured by two strikes from Moussa Dembele, whose previous contribution amounted to one goal from seven outings. Hibs produced their best spell in the second half, when their ambitions were resuscitated by a penalty kick converted by Anthony Stokes and a cleverly worked goal scored by Oliver Shaw, a product of the club’s youth academy. “We gave them a two-goal start and you can't do that and the manner we gave away the goals was disappointing,” said Neil Lennon, the Hibs manager. “We improved in the second half, but overall I was pleased with the way we played and there were some good performances out there. Dembele scores the fourth goal Credit:  REUTERS “It gave us a lot to do in the second half, but we had a real good go at it. It is just sloppiness of the goals that were the difference.” When the teams met previously in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Parkhead, Lennon observed that Celtic could be sluggish after a demanding European engagement in midweek. In the lead-up to this game, however, the Easter Road manager played a different card, declaring that he expected his former team to display a strong reaction to their 3-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena. Certainly, Brendan Rodgers did not feel obliged to refresh his ranks other than to leave Cristian Gamboa and Olivier Ntcham on the bench, with Nir Bitton and Callum McGregor given a start. Hibs, too, showed two changes as Gray and Brandon Barker replaced Whittaker and Boyle, who played in the previous weekend’s 1-0 home league defeat by Aberdeen. What became evident immediately was that, even if they felt that they might suffer the effects of their trip to Germany, Celtic were not about to save themselves for later. They pressed from the start to such effect that they won their first corner kick within 90 seconds from a Stuart Armstrong shot which deflected wide, despite Laidlaw’s attempt to stop the ball going out of play. Mikael Lustig also scored a brace Credit:  Action Plus Hibs looked discomfited by Celtic’s passing game but Brandon Barker raised the spirits of the Easter Road faithful with a powerful run which took him beyond the Hoops’ back line, though he could not find a colleague with the final ball. The outlook seemed to have brightened for Hibs when Anthony Stokes surged clear on the right of the Celtic box to find Barker on the other side with a driven cross, but the on-loan Manchester City midfielder slashed a shot into the side netting when the better option would have been a return cross to the Irish striker. The optimism of the Edinburgh contingent was quashed swiftly by Lustig’s first intervention.   A chip from Stuart Armstrong was headed by Dedryck Boyata into the path of Lustig, whose shot found the mark beyond Ross Laidlaw, but the goalkeeper could have done better than get a frail hand to the ball. Laidlaw will feel even more uncomfortable if he watches replays of Lustig’s second, although his partner in dismay should be David Gray, who allowed the Swede to spin off him for a low drive which, again, was allowed by the keeper to spin off both his gloves into the roof of the net. Lennon replaced Gray and Bartley with Whittaker and Boyle at half time and Hibs looked a more competitive unit. That said, they were fortunate to be awarded a penalty for a challenge on Boyle by Boyata, who appeared to have taken the ball off the Hibs man’s toe, not that the niceties were of concern to Stokes, who sent Craig Gordon the wrong way from the spot. Rodgers, too, made decisive changes, one of which was to send on Dembele for Leigh Griffiths. The French striker put Celtic 3-1 ahead midway through the half when a miskick by Scott Sinclair fell perfectly for him to shoot home from a dozen yards out. The deficit was reduced again by Shaw, with a deft finish from Whittaker’s shrewd prompt, but Dembele put the issue beyond dispute when Boyle was ambushed at a Hibs corner kick and Celtic swept downfield for an unopposed clinching fourth goal. “To play in the Champions League, then to score four goals here against difficult opponents was very pleasing and to get to 60 games without a domestic defeat is really incredible,” said Rodgers. “The players’ mentality is excellent.”

Hibernian 2 Celtic 4: Moussa Dembele double sends Hoops into Betfred Scottish League Cup final

Hibernian 2 Celtic 4: Moussa Dembele double sends Hoops into Betfred Scottish League Cup final

An improbable double act saw Celtic into the final of the Betfred Scottish League Cup – against either Rangers or Motherwell, who meet at Hampden Park on Sunday – and to their 60th successive unbeaten domestic fixture. Against a Hibernian side whose late rally put the issue briefly in doubt, Mikael Lustig, who had not scored in 21 prior appearances for Celtic this season, found the net twice before the interval to set the Hoops. The victory was secured by two strikes from Moussa Dembele, whose previous contribution amounted to one goal from seven outings. Hibs produced their best spell in the second half, when their ambitions were resuscitated by a penalty kick converted by Anthony Stokes and a cleverly worked goal scored by Oliver Shaw, a product of the club’s youth academy. “We gave them a two-goal start and you can't do that and the manner we gave away the goals was disappointing,” said Neil Lennon, the Hibs manager. “We improved in the second half, but overall I was pleased with the way we played and there were some good performances out there. Dembele scores the fourth goal Credit:  REUTERS “It gave us a lot to do in the second half, but we had a real good go at it. It is just sloppiness of the goals that were the difference.” When the teams met previously in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Parkhead, Lennon observed that Celtic could be sluggish after a demanding European engagement in midweek. In the lead-up to this game, however, the Easter Road manager played a different card, declaring that he expected his former team to display a strong reaction to their 3-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena. Certainly, Brendan Rodgers did not feel obliged to refresh his ranks other than to leave Cristian Gamboa and Olivier Ntcham on the bench, with Nir Bitton and Callum McGregor given a start. Hibs, too, showed two changes as Gray and Brandon Barker replaced Whittaker and Boyle, who played in the previous weekend’s 1-0 home league defeat by Aberdeen. What became evident immediately was that, even if they felt that they might suffer the effects of their trip to Germany, Celtic were not about to save themselves for later. They pressed from the start to such effect that they won their first corner kick within 90 seconds from a Stuart Armstrong shot which deflected wide, despite Laidlaw’s attempt to stop the ball going out of play. Mikael Lustig also scored a brace Credit:  Action Plus Hibs looked discomfited by Celtic’s passing game but Brandon Barker raised the spirits of the Easter Road faithful with a powerful run which took him beyond the Hoops’ back line, though he could not find a colleague with the final ball. The outlook seemed to have brightened for Hibs when Anthony Stokes surged clear on the right of the Celtic box to find Barker on the other side with a driven cross, but the on-loan Manchester City midfielder slashed a shot into the side netting when the better option would have been a return cross to the Irish striker. The optimism of the Edinburgh contingent was quashed swiftly by Lustig’s first intervention.   A chip from Stuart Armstrong was headed by Dedryck Boyata into the path of Lustig, whose shot found the mark beyond Ross Laidlaw, but the goalkeeper could have done better than get a frail hand to the ball. Laidlaw will feel even more uncomfortable if he watches replays of Lustig’s second, although his partner in dismay should be David Gray, who allowed the Swede to spin off him for a low drive which, again, was allowed by the keeper to spin off both his gloves into the roof of the net. Lennon replaced Gray and Bartley with Whittaker and Boyle at half time and Hibs looked a more competitive unit. That said, they were fortunate to be awarded a penalty for a challenge on Boyle by Boyata, who appeared to have taken the ball off the Hibs man’s toe, not that the niceties were of concern to Stokes, who sent Craig Gordon the wrong way from the spot. Rodgers, too, made decisive changes, one of which was to send on Dembele for Leigh Griffiths. The French striker put Celtic 3-1 ahead midway through the half when a miskick by Scott Sinclair fell perfectly for him to shoot home from a dozen yards out. The deficit was reduced again by Shaw, with a deft finish from Whittaker’s shrewd prompt, but Dembele put the issue beyond dispute when Boyle was ambushed at a Hibs corner kick and Celtic swept downfield for an unopposed clinching fourth goal. “To play in the Champions League, then to score four goals here against difficult opponents was very pleasing and to get to 60 games without a domestic defeat is really incredible,” said Rodgers. “The players’ mentality is excellent.”

Hibernian 2 Celtic 4: Moussa Dembele double sends Hoops into Betfred Scottish League Cup final

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Moussa Dembele celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Kieran Tierney, Tom Rogic and team mates REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Hibernian’s Ross Laidlaw with Celtic’s Mikael Lustig, who gestures to referee Kevin Clancy at the end of the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Mikael Lustig and Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose embrace at the end of the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at the end of the match with Stuart Armstrong REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Moussa Dembele scores their fourth goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Moussa Dembele scores their third goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Moussa Dembele scores their third goal REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Hibernian’s Anthony Stokes in action with Celtic’s Nir Bitton REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Mikael Lustig celebrates scoring their second goal with Scott Brown REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Mikael Lustig celebrates scoring their second goal with Kieran Tierney, Dedryck Boyata and Scott Brown REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers reacts REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Mikael Lustig celebrates scoring their second goal with Scott Brown REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Callum McGregor in action with Hibernian’s Efe Ambrose and Paul Hanlon REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Mikael Lustig celebrates scoring their first goal with Callum McGregor REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata in action with Hibernian's Anthony Stokes REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Semi Final - Hibernian vs Celtic - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - October 21, 2017 Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and Hibernian manager Neil Lennon before the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Neil Lennon wary of Celtic backlash

Three Northern Irish fellows and a Portuguese chap gather on the south side of Glasgow. Yes, the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park reflect the notable absence of Scottish managers, already largely seen in the top half of the SPFL Premiership table. Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic team will on Saturday extend their defence of the trophy against Neil Lennon’s Hibernian, who left Parkhead with a merited point after an entertaining 2-2 draw in the league three weeks ago. At Hampden on Sunday, the other member of the Northern Irish triumvirate, Stephen Robinson, will supervise Motherwell’s attempt to upset the odds against Pedro Caixinha and Rangers, who won 2-1 when the sides met at Fir Park on the opening weekend of the league season at the beginning of August. The extended chronicle of Celtic’s undefeated run of domestic fixtures will reach a landmark of 60 games if they overcome Hibs but the Hoops, alone of the four contenders, were in midweek action, away to Bayern Munich in a demanding Champions League tie that ended in a 3-0 defeat. When Hibs visited the east end of Glasgow before the international break, Lennon remarked that the best time to face Celtic was in the immediate aftermath of a European trip, but prior to this date with his former club, Lennon emphasised another possibility. Pedro Caixinha would like people to stop asking him about Kenny Miller and move on Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire “They will obviously be hurting after Wednesday night and there might be some sort of backlash,” he said. “We have to be ready for that. “Celtic are undefeated in over a year domestically so it tells you about the tall order we have in front of us, but it’s not insurmountable.”  Earlier in the week, Robinson complained that Motherwell were being overlooked on the run-up to their meeting with Rangers but, while Lennon agreed that Hibs had been similarly discounted, the Easter Road boss was not troubled by the fact. “There’s an expectation of the Old Firm to get to the finals,” he said. “It’s nothing new. The build-up to our game has been pretty low-key, which probably suits me anyway.” Celtic will draw from the players who travelled with Germany. The trio who missed that trip – Jozo Simunovic, Erik Sviatchenko and Anthony Ralston – are still injured and the chances are that Rodgers will freshen the team using the likes of James Forrest and Callum McGregor, who were on the bench in Germany. After the defeat in Munich, Rodgers defended his decision to attempt open play against a superior Bayern side and he returned to the topic on Friday when he said: “People say. ‘Park the bus’, or ‘be pragmatic’. We tried that in Barcelona. We lost 7-0. “We didn’t have as many attacking moments [in Germany] as we would have liked, but the players grew into the game and in the last 30 minutes they showed confidence that if you play that way, you can still create opportunities. We reflect on that and we move on.” Elsewhere, Caixinha would very much like Rangers to move on, at least from questions about Kenny Miller, who has been out of the picture since the 2-0 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox last month. The manager let it be known that he believed that someone leaked news of the dressing room exchanges after the Old Firm defeat, Miller being the clear scapegoat, prompting the veteran striker’s agent, Dave Baldwin, to denounce the situation this week on Twitter. When the subject was raised on Friday, Caixinha became coy, although repetitively so, as is his wont. “I’ve been speaking about that for the last three weeks,” he said. “Now I’d just like to place a period on all those conversations. Period. Period. Period. “Period in Portuguese means ‘point finale’. It means finished, no more questions. Am I distracted? No. Nothing distracts me. I’m a guy who places my focus and follows my focus. Nothing can distract me.” Whether or not Miller has reached his ‘point finale’ with Rangers has yet to be established but his will be the first name the Ibrox fans look for when the team for the semi-final is announced. Since it seems that Bruno Alves will continue as captain, the chances are that the best Miller can hope for is a place on the bench. By comparison, Motherwell have enjoyed a tranquil build-up and their captain. Carl McHugh – who was in the Bradford team beaten 5-0 by Swansea in the 2013 Football League Cup final – believes that the current tournament has brought out the best from the Fir Park side.  “There is a real desire in the squad to get better every day, work hard in training and listen to the manager,” McHugh said. “We run hard and scrap for each other. If you do that and leave everything out there, you give yourself a great chance and you have no regrets.”

Neil Lennon wary of Celtic backlash

Three Northern Irish fellows and a Portuguese chap gather on the south side of Glasgow. Yes, the semi-finals of the Betfred Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park reflect the notable absence of Scottish managers, already largely seen in the top half of the SPFL Premiership table. Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic team will on Saturday extend their defence of the trophy against Neil Lennon’s Hibernian, who left Parkhead with a merited point after an entertaining 2-2 draw in the league three weeks ago. At Hampden on Sunday, the other member of the Northern Irish triumvirate, Stephen Robinson, will supervise Motherwell’s attempt to upset the odds against Pedro Caixinha and Rangers, who won 2-1 when the sides met at Fir Park on the opening weekend of the league season at the beginning of August. The extended chronicle of Celtic’s undefeated run of domestic fixtures will reach a landmark of 60 games if they overcome Hibs but the Hoops, alone of the four contenders, were in midweek action, away to Bayern Munich in a demanding Champions League tie that ended in a 3-0 defeat. When Hibs visited the east end of Glasgow before the international break, Lennon remarked that the best time to face Celtic was in the immediate aftermath of a European trip, but prior to this date with his former club, Lennon emphasised another possibility. Pedro Caixinha would like people to stop asking him about Kenny Miller and move on Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire “They will obviously be hurting after Wednesday night and there might be some sort of backlash,” he said. “We have to be ready for that. “Celtic are undefeated in over a year domestically so it tells you about the tall order we have in front of us, but it’s not insurmountable.”  Earlier in the week, Robinson complained that Motherwell were being overlooked on the run-up to their meeting with Rangers but, while Lennon agreed that Hibs had been similarly discounted, the Easter Road boss was not troubled by the fact. “There’s an expectation of the Old Firm to get to the finals,” he said. “It’s nothing new. The build-up to our game has been pretty low-key, which probably suits me anyway.” Celtic will draw from the players who travelled with Germany. The trio who missed that trip – Jozo Simunovic, Erik Sviatchenko and Anthony Ralston – are still injured and the chances are that Rodgers will freshen the team using the likes of James Forrest and Callum McGregor, who were on the bench in Germany. After the defeat in Munich, Rodgers defended his decision to attempt open play against a superior Bayern side and he returned to the topic on Friday when he said: “People say. ‘Park the bus’, or ‘be pragmatic’. We tried that in Barcelona. We lost 7-0. “We didn’t have as many attacking moments [in Germany] as we would have liked, but the players grew into the game and in the last 30 minutes they showed confidence that if you play that way, you can still create opportunities. We reflect on that and we move on.” Elsewhere, Caixinha would very much like Rangers to move on, at least from questions about Kenny Miller, who has been out of the picture since the 2-0 defeat by Celtic at Ibrox last month. The manager let it be known that he believed that someone leaked news of the dressing room exchanges after the Old Firm defeat, Miller being the clear scapegoat, prompting the veteran striker’s agent, Dave Baldwin, to denounce the situation this week on Twitter. When the subject was raised on Friday, Caixinha became coy, although repetitively so, as is his wont. “I’ve been speaking about that for the last three weeks,” he said. “Now I’d just like to place a period on all those conversations. Period. Period. Period. “Period in Portuguese means ‘point finale’. It means finished, no more questions. Am I distracted? No. Nothing distracts me. I’m a guy who places my focus and follows my focus. Nothing can distract me.” Whether or not Miller has reached his ‘point finale’ with Rangers has yet to be established but his will be the first name the Ibrox fans look for when the team for the semi-final is announced. Since it seems that Bruno Alves will continue as captain, the chances are that the best Miller can hope for is a place on the bench. By comparison, Motherwell have enjoyed a tranquil build-up and their captain. Carl McHugh – who was in the Bradford team beaten 5-0 by Swansea in the 2013 Football League Cup final – believes that the current tournament has brought out the best from the Fir Park side.  “There is a real desire in the squad to get better every day, work hard in training and listen to the manager,” McHugh said. “We run hard and scrap for each other. If you do that and leave everything out there, you give yourself a great chance and you have no regrets.”

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Hibernian vs Celtic: TV channel, stream, kick-off time, odds & match preview

The climax of Scotland's first major domestic trophy is nearing, with the Hoops aiming to take a further step towards yet another title

Brendan Rodgers: 'I'd rather lose playing the Celtic way than sit and defend for 90 minutes and still lose'

In other circumstances, it would be no revelation if Celtic exhibited the symptoms of shell shock as a consequence of their European expeditions. In the space of 15 months they have endured defeat by the most minuscule opponents they have faced at this level – Lincoln Red Imps – along with their worst European loss, a 7-0 drubbing by Barcelona in the Nou Camp, and their heaviest home reverse, a 5-0 beating by Paris St-Germain. Their latest pounding was administered by Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, when the 3-0 score belied a contest that easily could have finished with the Bundesliga side ahead by double that margin. Brendan Rodgers and his players, however, are able to sustain such wounds without the legacy of disfiguring scar tissue because of their bipolar existence. If they prevail against Hibernian in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Saturday, the Hoops will record their 60th successive unbeaten domestic fixture, a sequence that has included half-a-dozen wins over Rangers, including two 5-1 drubbings, the second of which set a record for a Celtic victory at Ibrox. The accumulation of home comforts includes the three Scottish honours but, despite total command of their native domain, Celtic are cast in the role of impoverished neighbours compared to Champions League powers such as Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich. It is not impossible for them to get beyond the group stage, as Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon proved during their time in charge in the east end of Glasgow, but the chances of a repeat grow slimmer with every transfer deal priced in hundreds of millions of euros amongst the bloated ‘big five’ nations. Celtic suffered a beating in Bavaria Credit: REUTERS So it was that, while their heroes were chasing shadows against Bayern, the Celtic support kept up a constant stream of choruses in their lofty perch at the Allianz Arena. They were celebrating the simple fact of being present, events on the field notwithstanding. Rodgers, meanwhile, has a refrain of his own, to the effect that his squad are in a constant process of development. The evidence in his favour is that, after the competitive hiatus under his predecessor, Ronny Deila, the Northern Irishman has twice successfully steered his men through half-a-dozen hazardous qualifiers and, thanks to a merited 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, Celtic are favourites to secure third spot in Group B and a place in the Europa League, where the demands are likely to be more congenial. It was this context which allowed Rodgers to be bullish in the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat, despite the decision not to alter his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, even when it meant a match-up with a Bayern side who were better equipped in every position – and who had been incited to demonstrate the mismatch by Jupp Heyncke’s return for a third spell in charge. The concession of three cheap goals and the narrow avoidance of greater damage prompted charges of naivety or presumption directed towards Rodgers but his retort was that his defenders were below par and that, if defeat was always the probable outcome, he would rather supervise an expansive game than a protective huddle. Bendan Rodgers watches his team take a beating Credit: REUTERS “I’d rather lose playing how we want to play and how we want to work, as opposed to sit in and defending for 90 minutes and still lose if that’s the case,” he said. Of course, the proposition can be advanced that if Celtic had concentrated on closing available space in their own half, thus narrowing the percentages in Bayern’s favour, they would have created the circumstances which can produce menacing counterattacks. Rodgers bridled somewhat when it was suggested that he could have been more pragmatic. “There was nothing about being pragmatic for the goals we conceded. We didn’t defend our box well enough from crosses coming in – we can do better with those,” he said. Celtic’s destiny in the group is unlikely to be affected by Bayern’s Halloween visit to Glasgow, but they will be expected to make a better fist of it on their own turf. Asked if he believed that he and his team-mates had the capacity to hurt Heynckes’s players at home, goalkeeper Craig Gordon said: “We are going to try but it is a big task. “They have got some world-class players and they will be looking to go quite far into this competition and try to win it. It was always going to be difficult. There are better teams than us who will be beaten 3-0 in Munich.” That may be true, but another drubbing at home, such as was inflicted by PSG, would be markedly less palatable. Pragmatism is not usually romantic but, against manifestly superior opponents, it need not be shorn of virtue.

Brendan Rodgers: 'I'd rather lose playing the Celtic way than sit and defend for 90 minutes and still lose'

In other circumstances, it would be no revelation if Celtic exhibited the symptoms of shell shock as a consequence of their European expeditions. In the space of 15 months they have endured defeat by the most minuscule opponents they have faced at this level – Lincoln Red Imps – along with their worst European loss, a 7-0 drubbing by Barcelona in the Nou Camp, and their heaviest home reverse, a 5-0 beating by Paris St-Germain. Their latest pounding was administered by Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, when the 3-0 score belied a contest that easily could have finished with the Bundesliga side ahead by double that margin. Brendan Rodgers and his players, however, are able to sustain such wounds without the legacy of disfiguring scar tissue because of their bipolar existence. If they prevail against Hibernian in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Saturday, the Hoops will record their 60th successive unbeaten domestic fixture, a sequence that has included half-a-dozen wins over Rangers, including two 5-1 drubbings, the second of which set a record for a Celtic victory at Ibrox. The accumulation of home comforts includes the three Scottish honours but, despite total command of their native domain, Celtic are cast in the role of impoverished neighbours compared to Champions League powers such as Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich. It is not impossible for them to get beyond the group stage, as Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon proved during their time in charge in the east end of Glasgow, but the chances of a repeat grow slimmer with every transfer deal priced in hundreds of millions of euros amongst the bloated ‘big five’ nations. Celtic suffered a beating in Bavaria Credit: REUTERS So it was that, while their heroes were chasing shadows against Bayern, the Celtic support kept up a constant stream of choruses in their lofty perch at the Allianz Arena. They were celebrating the simple fact of being present, events on the field notwithstanding. Rodgers, meanwhile, has a refrain of his own, to the effect that his squad are in a constant process of development. The evidence in his favour is that, after the competitive hiatus under his predecessor, Ronny Deila, the Northern Irishman has twice successfully steered his men through half-a-dozen hazardous qualifiers and, thanks to a merited 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, Celtic are favourites to secure third spot in Group B and a place in the Europa League, where the demands are likely to be more congenial. It was this context which allowed Rodgers to be bullish in the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat, despite the decision not to alter his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, even when it meant a match-up with a Bayern side who were better equipped in every position – and who had been incited to demonstrate the mismatch by Jupp Heyncke’s return for a third spell in charge. The concession of three cheap goals and the narrow avoidance of greater damage prompted charges of naivety or presumption directed towards Rodgers but his retort was that his defenders were below par and that, if defeat was always the probable outcome, he would rather supervise an expansive game than a protective huddle. Bendan Rodgers watches his team take a beating Credit: REUTERS “I’d rather lose playing how we want to play and how we want to work, as opposed to sit in and defending for 90 minutes and still lose if that’s the case,” he said. Of course, the proposition can be advanced that if Celtic had concentrated on closing available space in their own half, thus narrowing the percentages in Bayern’s favour, they would have created the circumstances which can produce menacing counterattacks. Rodgers bridled somewhat when it was suggested that he could have been more pragmatic. “There was nothing about being pragmatic for the goals we conceded. We didn’t defend our box well enough from crosses coming in – we can do better with those,” he said. Celtic’s destiny in the group is unlikely to be affected by Bayern’s Halloween visit to Glasgow, but they will be expected to make a better fist of it on their own turf. Asked if he believed that he and his team-mates had the capacity to hurt Heynckes’s players at home, goalkeeper Craig Gordon said: “We are going to try but it is a big task. “They have got some world-class players and they will be looking to go quite far into this competition and try to win it. It was always going to be difficult. There are better teams than us who will be beaten 3-0 in Munich.” That may be true, but another drubbing at home, such as was inflicted by PSG, would be markedly less palatable. Pragmatism is not usually romantic but, against manifestly superior opponents, it need not be shorn of virtue.

Brendan Rodgers: 'I'd rather lose playing the Celtic way than sit and defend for 90 minutes and still lose'

In other circumstances, it would be no revelation if Celtic exhibited the symptoms of shell shock as a consequence of their European expeditions. In the space of 15 months they have endured defeat by the most minuscule opponents they have faced at this level – Lincoln Red Imps – along with their worst European loss, a 7-0 drubbing by Barcelona in the Nou Camp, and their heaviest home reverse, a 5-0 beating by Paris St-Germain. Their latest pounding was administered by Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, when the 3-0 score belied a contest that easily could have finished with the Bundesliga side ahead by double that margin. Brendan Rodgers and his players, however, are able to sustain such wounds without the legacy of disfiguring scar tissue because of their bipolar existence. If they prevail against Hibernian in the Betfred Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Saturday, the Hoops will record their 60th successive unbeaten domestic fixture, a sequence that has included half-a-dozen wins over Rangers, including two 5-1 drubbings, the second of which set a record for a Celtic victory at Ibrox. The accumulation of home comforts includes the three Scottish honours but, despite total command of their native domain, Celtic are cast in the role of impoverished neighbours compared to Champions League powers such as Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich. It is not impossible for them to get beyond the group stage, as Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon proved during their time in charge in the east end of Glasgow, but the chances of a repeat grow slimmer with every transfer deal priced in hundreds of millions of euros amongst the bloated ‘big five’ nations. Celtic suffered a beating in Bavaria Credit: REUTERS So it was that, while their heroes were chasing shadows against Bayern, the Celtic support kept up a constant stream of choruses in their lofty perch at the Allianz Arena. They were celebrating the simple fact of being present, events on the field notwithstanding. Rodgers, meanwhile, has a refrain of his own, to the effect that his squad are in a constant process of development. The evidence in his favour is that, after the competitive hiatus under his predecessor, Ronny Deila, the Northern Irishman has twice successfully steered his men through half-a-dozen hazardous qualifiers and, thanks to a merited 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, Celtic are favourites to secure third spot in Group B and a place in the Europa League, where the demands are likely to be more congenial. It was this context which allowed Rodgers to be bullish in the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat, despite the decision not to alter his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, even when it meant a match-up with a Bayern side who were better equipped in every position – and who had been incited to demonstrate the mismatch by Jupp Heyncke’s return for a third spell in charge. The concession of three cheap goals and the narrow avoidance of greater damage prompted charges of naivety or presumption directed towards Rodgers but his retort was that his defenders were below par and that, if defeat was always the probable outcome, he would rather supervise an expansive game than a protective huddle. Bendan Rodgers watches his team take a beating Credit: REUTERS “I’d rather lose playing how we want to play and how we want to work, as opposed to sit in and defending for 90 minutes and still lose if that’s the case,” he said. Of course, the proposition can be advanced that if Celtic had concentrated on closing available space in their own half, thus narrowing the percentages in Bayern’s favour, they would have created the circumstances which can produce menacing counterattacks. Rodgers bridled somewhat when it was suggested that he could have been more pragmatic. “There was nothing about being pragmatic for the goals we conceded. We didn’t defend our box well enough from crosses coming in – we can do better with those,” he said. Celtic’s destiny in the group is unlikely to be affected by Bayern’s Halloween visit to Glasgow, but they will be expected to make a better fist of it on their own turf. Asked if he believed that he and his team-mates had the capacity to hurt Heynckes’s players at home, goalkeeper Craig Gordon said: “We are going to try but it is a big task. “They have got some world-class players and they will be looking to go quite far into this competition and try to win it. It was always going to be difficult. There are better teams than us who will be beaten 3-0 in Munich.” That may be true, but another drubbing at home, such as was inflicted by PSG, would be markedly less palatable. Pragmatism is not usually romantic but, against manifestly superior opponents, it need not be shorn of virtue.

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