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Celtic 2-0 Rangers

By Clive Lindsay

Celtic captain Stephen McManus lifts the cup at Hampden
Celtic captain Stephen McManus lifted the cup at Hampden

Darren O'Dea was the unlikely extra-time hero as Celtic wrestled the Co-operative Insurance Cup from holders Rangers in a tense Hampden final.

Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc saved from Kyle Lafferty and Allan McGregor matched that to deny Shunsuke Nakamura.

Glenn Loovens had a header cleared off the line by Rangers' Pedro Mendes, but O'Dea, making a rare start, headed in 90 seconds into added time.

Aiden McGeady added the second from the spot after Kirk Broadfoot was sent off.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan had sprung a surprise by giving a first Old Firm start to Loovens, with Gary Caldwell moving forward into midfield and misfiring strikers Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Georgios Samaras being left on the bench.

It looked like it was going to be a midfield war of attrition, with Rangers playing just Kenny Miller up front as Kris Boyd was left on the bench as expected.

McManus pleased after tough cup victory

Even without their moody top scorer, it was Rangers who started the brighter and Sasa Papac got in behind the Celtic defence only to be ruled offside.

But Celtic settled and began to take control to put increasing pressure on a Rangers side denied the speedy presence of in-form Madjid Bougherra, who failed a fitness test.

Kirk Broadfoot's return from injury meant a straight swap at the heart of a defence that survived a period of pressure during which Scott Brown fired a long-range effort over the crossbar, McGeady shot across goal and Loovens sent a looping header wide.

McGeady was causing Steven Whittaker all sorts of problems and, after skipping past the right-back, sent in a low cross that Brown volleyed over from 15 yards.

Yet it was Rangers who forced the first save of the game a minute before the break on a heavy, re-laid pitch on which players found it difficult to stay on their feet never mind control the ball.

Smith disappointed with extra-time loss

Lafferty held off Andreas Hinkel to take the ball on his chest before firing a powerful effort that Boruc turned superbly over the bar at full stretch.

Rangers also created the first danger of the second half, Steven Davis sending a low drive a few feet wide from the edge of the box.

Walter Smith had moved Lafferty up front, it was beginning to pay dividends and the Rangers manager brought on fit-again Nacho Novo to partner the Northern Irishman in place of Kenny Miller.

Lafferty came close to stealing the opener off the toes of Boruc when the goalkeeper tried some fancy footwork before hastily clearing a back-pass in front of his own goal.

Celtic almost made the breakthrough themselves when David Weir tripped McGeady 20 yards out and McGregor turned Nakamura's curler aimed at the back post past for a corner.

Celtic celebrate Darren O'Dea's goal
O'Dea scored his first goal in two years to put Celtic ahead at Hampden

The Rangers goalkeeper again did well, beating the ball away after Brown let fly from close range after turning Broadfoot on the six yard line.

It was Mendes' thigh to the rescue from the resulting corner, clearing off the line from a powerful Loovens header.

Boruc turned a powerful Novo drive over the crossbar as Boyd, who fell out with his manager after being left on the bench last weekend, prepared to replace Lafferty.

Rangers had looked the more likely to score in the dying seconds, but Celtic took the lead in extra time when O'Dea's header from a Nakamura free-kick looped over McGregor.

Interview: Celtic manager Gordon Strachan

McDonald and Samaras both squandered chances and McGregor had to tip a Brown pile-driver over the bar as Celtic eased to victory, the goal seemingly having sapped the energy from Rangers' legs and their chances of a domestic treble.

And, in the dying seconds, Broadfoot clipped the heels of McGeady, the Rangers defender was sent off and the Celtic midfielder dispatched the resulting penalty.


Celtic : Boruc, Hinkel, Loovens, McManus, O'Dea (Wilson 105), Caldwell, Nakamura, Scott Brown, Hartley (Samaras 72), McGeady, McDonald, Samaras (Vennegoor of Hesselink 120).
Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, Crosas.

Booked : Hinkel, O'Dea, McGeady, Boruc.

Goals : O'Dea 91, McGeady 120 pen.

Rangers : McGregor, Whittaker, Weir, Broadfoot, Papac, Davis, McCulloch (Dailly 82), Ferguson, Mendes, Miller (Novo 58), Lafferty (Boyd 76).
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Edu.

Sent Off : Broadfoot (120). Booked : Novo, Weir, McCulloch.

Att : 51,193

Ref : D McDonald



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see also
Angst, tension and joy at Hampden
15 Mar 09 |  Scottish Cups
Strachan delighted with cup win
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Smith vows to recover from defeat
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Co-op Cup photo gallery
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1957-66 Celtic dominate early finals
14 Mar 09 |  Scottish Cups
The route to the final
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