Celtic win Scottish Cup after Idah sinks Rangers with late strike to clinch double

Estimated read time 4 min read

This dramatic conclusion to the Old Firm’s season was to prove a tale of two former England goalkeepers. For Joe Hart, glory in his last match as a professional. Hart cried tears of joy as the whistle blew. Jack Butland had little to occupy him over 98 minutes; the Rangers ­custodian’s error in the dying seconds of regulation time afforded Celtic the sole opportunity they needed to claim the Scottish Cup. Butland was the most despondent figure of all as Celtic partied.

This felt cruel for Butland, who has been Rangers’ stand-out performer in this campaign. His form led to talk of an ­international recall. But there is no ­denying the 31-year-old was at fault when only parrying Paulo Bernardo’s drive to the feet of Adam Idah. The Norwich loanee etched his name into Celtic folklore by returning the ball past Butland with interest. Brendan Rodgers has secured a domestic ­double in the first season of his second Celtic tenure.

Philippe Clement understandably defended Butland. The Rangers manager believes swerve on the ball made the Bernardo drive tricky for his goalkeeper. “It was a really difficult shot,” he said. “That was an unlucky moment.”

In truth, Butland had little else to do. Rangers had the better of what was a taut, tense battle. It must be ­galling for Clement that his team still fell short when Celtic looked so jaded.

Rodgers will take time to revel in this one. “The will and desire of the players was immense,” he said. “We lacked a little bit of energy. I’m so proud of the team for showing that resilience. The Scottish Cup and the history of this club with it means it is so, so important.”

Rodgers is due credit for this nod to what matters in football beyond the riches bestowed on clubs like Celtic for turning up and ticking a box in the Champions League.

Strangely, Hart has enjoyed the finest form of his Celtic career since announcing his retirement in late February. The spell in Glasgow has resulted in seven ­medals of the winning variety. Only in recent months, though, has a ­connection between player and supporters been ­properly solidified. Rodgers had worked out that the 37-year-old has taken part in more than 4000 training ­sessions over his career. “Every day is like his first,” Rodgers said. “His enthusiasm, his love of the game, his ­leadership … ­everything about the man is top class. What a way for him to finish; a ­double winner at a club that will idolise him for rest of his life.”

Hart joined the Celtic ­captain, Callum McGregor, to raise the Cup.

There was, as ever, the whiff of cordite. Celtic felt they should been awarded a first-half penalty after Kyogo Furuhashi’s header hit the arm of Ben Davies. Spot-kicks have been given for far less in Scotland all ­season.

Rangers had the ball in the net on the hour mark, only for the video assistant referee to divert Nick Walsh’s attention to a push by Nico Raskin on Hart. Walsh agreed Raskin was guilty of a foul, which ruled out Abdallah Sima’s close-range effort.

Clement was unconvinced. “All the Celtic ­defenders were grabbing my players,” he said. “It was a really big call to ­disallow that goal. It is a grey area, that one.”

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The ­obvious retort is that had Raskin left Hart alone there would have been no decision to make. Hart looked in ­trouble from James Tavernier’s menacing corner before Raskin got involved.

Extra time appeared inevitable before Bernardo marauded, Butland blundered and Idah notched his ninth goal of a successful loan spell. Rodgers is keen to keep the striker in Glasgow permanently, for a fee reportedly set at £5m. There is logic behind that desire, given Idah’s scope to improve. “He is a brilliant team player,” said Rodgers.

Rodgers and his Celtic squad, much maligned over the early months of the season, continue to dominate in Scotland. Rangers will spend a summer break licking wounds. Again.

Source: theguardian.com

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