On Sunday afternoon I watched Celtic take on the new Rangers for the fourth time in Scottish football history. It was the third meeting between the two clubs in domestic cup competitions, of which all have been semi finals at Hampden.
Having lost their first ever league clash against Celtic in September significantly, Mark Warburton was planning for damage limitation. Celtic on the other hand were looking to bounce back from a home defeat in the Champions League.
Each club is experiencing very different fortunes right now. The importance of this game was high but perhaps not as even as the Scottish media made out.
For starters, this Rangers side are still way off the pace of where their friends in the press will tell you they are. Not only that, off the field they remain an absolute disaster, not that you’ll read about it.
Celtic on the other hand have the kind of problems other Scottish teams can only dream of. Playing in Europe is one of them, who to spend a few million on might be another.
Despite Celtic’s dominance at Hampden they lacked a cutting edge and a bit of luck. We can talk about Craig Thomson’s refereeing and diabolical decisions but I’d really rather not – I don’t have the time or energy today.
On a good Sunday this should have been 3, 4 or 5-0 to Celtic. They were hardly troubled whilst at the same time not as effective as they have been this season.
European hangover? Most likely, but it’s still a cup competition and it crossed my mind a couple of times during the match if Celtic might just blow it.
Thankfully they didn’t. Leigh Griffiths’ effervescence was instrumental in the second half and he assisted Moussa Dembele with the winner.
There were notable performances from few but Matt Gilks kept his team in it for a while only to be outdone by Dembele’s nutmeg. I’ll save my main praise for Scott Brown who didn’t stop passing, running and tackling like a true captain.
So the final will be contested between Scotland’s two best clubs. Should be interesting.