'Relentless' Celtic to meet Rangers in League Cup Final as Hoops bid to retain trophy

'Relentless' Celtic to meet Rangers in League Cup Final as Hoops bid to retain trophy

MANAGER Ange Postecoglou described his Celtic team as 'relentless' after they booked their place in the Viaplay Scottish League Cup Final with a 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock on Saturday.

They will meet Rangers in the decider after the Ibrox side's 2-1 extra-time win over Aberdeen on Sunday, with both Glasgow sides coming up against stern tests in their respective semi-finals.

It's a seventh final in nine seasons for the Hoops, who have won the six previous finals they have appeared in, including a 1-0 win over their city rivals in 2019/20.

The Gers, meanwhile, are hoping to get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 2010/11, when they beat Celtic 2-1 after extra time.

Celtic strike late again

On Saturday, the Hoops took the lead against Kilmarnock after 18 minutes at Hampden Park through a Daizen Maeda effort.

The Japanese forward was in the right place at the right time to deflect an attempted clearance from Kyle Lafferty — in his first match back after a 10-game ban for sectarian comments — beyond keeper Sam Walker.

However, Killie made it difficult for Celtic in horrendous conditions at the national stadium, with Rory McKenzie, Joe Wright and Christian Doidge testing Joe Hart, while Danny Armstrong rifled into the side netting.

Reo Hatate and Maeda had efforts ruled out for offside, the latter chalked off after a VAR review, while Walker was at full stretch to turn an Aaron Mooy effort around the post.

Killie will justifiably feel aggrieved that they weren't awarded an injury-time penalty when substitute Giorgos Giakoumakis appeared to bring Wright down in the box.

To rub salt into the wound, the Greek striker scored from close range moments later to seal the win, turning home the loose ball after Walker had parried David Turnbull's effort.

'We'll battle it out'

It was another decisive late goal for the Hoops and manager Ange Postecoglou said afterwards such commitment is what he demands from his players.

"We want to be a team that's relentless in our pursuit of success," he told Celtic TV.

“It’s demanded at this football club and again the boys delivered when it mattered."

He added: "The conditions, the pitch, it wasn't great for us to play our football, it made it really difficult.

"But as I said, we spoke about that before the game and if we need to battle this out, we’ll battle it out.

"What's important is that once the game's done and dusted, we're in the final."

Roofe seals Gers win

Meanwhile, Rangers needed extra time to see off the challenge of six-time winners Aberdeen.

Fashion Sakala struck the post early on before Bojan Miovski had a goal ruled out for offside.

Miovski gave the Dons the lead shortly before half time but Ryan Jack levelled on the hour mark after his shot took a deflection off on-loan Celtic defender Liam Scales.

Aberdeen faced an uphill struggle after they had to play the entirely of extra time with 10 men, captain Anthony Stewart receiving his marching orders minutes before the full-time whistle for a lunging challenge on Fashion Sakala.

Shortly after the restart, James Tavernier struck the bar with a deflected effort before Kemar Roofe turned in Scott Wright's cross in the fourth minute of extra time.

Former Celtic player Jonny Hayes, Scales and Hayden Coulson drew good saves from Allan McGregor but the 10 men couldn't find the leveller they needed to force penalties.

Rangers and Celtic will return to Hampden to vie for the first silverware of the season in the Viaplay League Cup Final on Sunday, February 26, 2023.