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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 01:08 GMT
Balde bowls out Dundee Utd
Henrik Larsson drives home Celtic's second goal at Hampden
Henrik Larsson was on the scoresheet again for Celtic
Celtic 3-0 Dundee United

Three nightmare minutes ended Dundee United's hopes of preventing an Old Firm final at a rain-soaked Hampden Park.

Ian McCall's side had given as good as they got against Celtic until Bobo Balde pounced on a defensive error for the first of his two goals after 52 minutes.

And United defender Jim Lauchlan was sent off moments later for a scything tackle on Henrik Larsson.

Victory for Celtic was made certain by a Larsson goal 10 minutes from time and another by Balde in the dying seconds to set up a mouthwatering showdown with Glasgow rivals Rangers at the same venue on 16 March.

Bobo Balde celebrates his goalscoring feats
Defender Bobo Balde powered home two goals
United had to play with 10 men for the second match in a row, only this time there was no way back to victory as there had been against Motherwell.

Goalkeeper Alan Combe was forgiven for his red card and retained his place.

McCall, though, had to do without the club's three transfer window signings, Daniele Chiarini and Gary Bollan being suspended, while fellow defender Andy Tod was injured.

The semi-final attracted a disappointing attendance, but Celtic manager Martin O'Neill showed he was determined to face Rangers in the final by including all his big guns.

O'Neill made just two changes from the weekend's win away to Partick Thistle.

Chris Sutton moved back into midfield to accommodate John Hartson alongside Larsson up front.

Stilian Petrov was a notable, if mysterious, absentee from even the substitute's bench as Paul Lambert came into midfield.

Celtic dominated possession from kick-off and Larsson drove straight into the arms of Combe from 16 yards after a short pass back from Mark Wilson.

United caused panic in the Celtic box when Stuart Duff got in behind the central defence and last-ditch tackles from Joos Valgaeren and Balde prevented the low cross reaching Lilley and Jim McIntyre in front of goal.

McCall's side dominated in the latter stages of the first half, but it was Celtic who regained ascendency after the break.

Henrik Larsson celebrates his goal
Celtic were taking the CIS Cup seriously
Hartson had already poked a corner against the outside of the post by the time they took the lead.

United failed to clear a Hartson through ball and, when Larsson tried to round Combe, Balde pounced to drive the ball home.

McCall's side were shaken and Lauchlan lost his composure with a late challenge on Larsson, although a straight red card seemed harsh considering it was on the half-way line.

Winger Jamie Smith drove against the outside of the United post and a Sutton header crashed off the bar.

Shots from Charlie Miller and substitute Jim Hamilton offered some hope for United until Larsson drove low through a sea of legs into the net to end their challenge and Balde added a third with a late header.

Celtic: Hedman, Valgaeren, Balde, Laursen, Agathe (Sylla 82), Lambert, Lennon, Sutton, Smith (Thompson 73), Larsson, Hartson (Fernandez 73).
Subs Not Used: Crainey, Marshall.

Booked: Lambert, Smith.

Goals: Balde 52, Larsson 80, Balde 90.

Dundee Utd: Combe, Wilson, Lauchlan, McCraken, Duff, Easton, Miller (O'Donnell 74), McIntyre, Paterson (McCunnie 70), Lilley, Dodds (Hamilton 63).
Subs Not Used: Smart, Gallacher.

Sent Off: Lauchlan (55).

Booked: McIntyre, Miller.

Attendance: 18,856

Referee: Stuart Dougal.

BBC Sport's Roddy Forsyth
"The Old Firm will now decide the destination of the CIS Cup"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"We won comfortably in the end"
See also:

13 Feb 03 | Scotland
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