By Rory West
This weekend Hampden Park would play host to the two Semi-Finals of the Scottish League Cup, the first since the competition’s redevelopment in the summer. The first fixture of the weekend was on the Saturday and saw Greenock Morton take on Aberdeen. Then on the Sunday bitter rivals Celtic and Rangers would do battle for a spot in the final.
Morton vs Aberdeen
2014 League Cup winners Aberdeen ran out 2-0 winners in this close, well fought encounter. Late goals courtesy of Adam Rooney and Kenny McLean booked The Dons’ cup final spot but Morton made them work for their victory. Aberdeen started the game on top winning four corners in the space of a few minutes and came close with one of them as Kenny McLean had a volley saved.
Morton would grow into the game and will probably find themselves unlucky to not go in at half time 1-0 up after Jai Quitongo went through one on one however Joe Lewis saved brilliantly with his feet. The Championship side kept up their dogged approach in the second half but couldn’t quite create any clear chances without shooting from range.
On the stroke of the 70th minute Graeme Shinnie collected the ball on the right wing where he’d deliver a right footed cross onto the head of Andy Considine whose header across goal reached Adam Rooney who would loop a header into the Morton net to give his side the lead.
Aberdeen looked a lot more composed once they got their goal and looked to add to their tally and they could’ve when Shinnie went through on the Morton goal but his shot went over the bar. Kenny McLean would give Aberdeen a second after some neat work from Niall McGinn on the wing, his shot was saved and Kenny McLean pounced on the rebound.
All in all a deserved win 2-0 for Aberdeen but Morton deserve credit for the part they played in this semi final albeit not the part they would have been hoping to play.
Rangers vs Celtic
The Old Firm were back again but this time with a spot in a cup final on the line. Celtic would have been hoping for a repeat of this season’s first encounter were they won 5-1. Rangers certainly would not. Many predicted that another mauling would be handed out by Celtic, the scoreline wouldn’t suggest that but statistically it would tell otherwise. A 1-0 scoreline would be enough to see Celtic through to the League Cup final but it should’ve been a whole lot more.
The first half was slow with neither side creating too much. Celtic controlled but Rangers looked a lot tighter than last time the sides met and that may be down to Mark Warburton putting Lee Hodson right back. This allowed Tavernier to essentially play on top of Hodson to stifle the threat of Scott Sinclair who was a constant thorn in the side for Rangers in the 5-1 fixture. In fairness to Warburton this tactic he deployed worked well throughout the game as very little of Celtic’s attacking play came through Sinclair or Kieren Tierney who’s usual over lapping runs were shunned.
Controversy struck – as it undoubtedly would – in the first half when Rangers’ Barrie McKay went down in the box to which referee Craig Thomson booked him for diving. It came after a challenge from Jozo Simunovic with most of the crowd thinking Thomson was pointing to the spot however he had the crowd, BT Sport commentary and myself fooled when he produced the card. Thomson who would later be surrounded in more controversy probably got the decision right this time, he wouldn’t in the second half.
0-0 at half time and neither side could really argue their case for who deserved the lead. Mid way through the second half more controversy struck when Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko had the ball in the back of the net but Craig Thomson disallowed it for a foul on Clint Hill. Replays would show that there was very little contact between the two and Hill had used his experience to buy the foul.
Celtic would get their lead late on when substitute Leigh Griffiths would get the ball on the right side where he’d put in a cross that was met beautifully by Moussa Dembele, who’s deft flick found the bottom corner and sent the Celtic support into raptures.
A very much deserving win for Celtic who dominated the game with Rangers offering little when it came to clear cut chances.
The date is set, November the 27th, Aberdeen vs Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final incredibly for only the second time in 40 years. It should be a cracker.