Celtic‘s domination of Scottish football continued with an absorbing 1-0 Betfred Cup final win over Old Firm rivals Rangers at Hampden Park.
The Light Blues passed up a series of chances with Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster making key saves to keep the game scoreless at the interval.
Rangers were punished for those missed opportunities when Celtic defender Christopher Jullien knocked in a Ryan Christie free-kick in the 59th minute.
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Forster then saved a penalty from Alfredo Morelos, after Hoops right-back Jeremie Frimpong had been sent off by referee Willie Collum for fouling the striker inside the box.
Neil Lennon’s 10 men held out for their 10th consecutive trophy win and his first success in the tournament as a manager, as Celtic delivered a psychological blow to Rangers, who have gone eight years without a major piece of silverware.
Neil Lennon has warned his players to be ruthless to maintain their record-breaking 30-game unbeaten streak in the cups and not allow emotions or any refereeing decisions to interfere with their run.
“It’s important to try to take that out of it. Try to be the dominant team in all aspects of the game an then you don’t have to look at wrong decisions. You’ve got to take the referee out of it, you’ve got to keep your discipline and play as strongly as you can. People who say the run needs to end at some point? It doesn’t need to be this week. Not on the run we’re on, not the way we’re playing. Not with the significance or magnitude or the game, or the opposition. We don’t want to it to stop this Sunday, we want to keep it going for as long as we can.
Much of the speculation in the lead-up to today's game centred around the fitness of Odsonne Edouard. The striker has been absent for the last three games and returns to the squad, but not the starting line-up. Neil Lennon has confirmed the forward will play a part in the second half.
We've been going with Lewis Morgan for the past three games, it's not going to change that much. Odsonne Edouard said yesterday he didn't feel comfortable enough to start, but he can hopefully make an impact later in the game. If we turn up and play we've got a chance. The wet pitch may suit us.Sometimes the quicker the pitch the better we play.
Finally there is respite for Celtic and it's thanks to some fine work from 18-year-old Frimpong. His battle with Kent will be key today and he manages to skip down the right-flank, but Barisic slides in with a full-blooded challenge to clear the danger.
Rangers break and win yet another corner. Helander is first to it but the Swede's header is cleared comfortably. The rain is thick, the wind is howling, and it's been a typically frantic start to an Old Firm derby.
Frimpong may be the youngest player on the pitch but he's been Celtic's best attacking outlet by a considerable margin so far. The teenager dances down the right-wing, wrongfoots the tracking midfielder to work space for a cross and fizzes the ball towards the penalty spot. But with only Morgan to target, it's easy for Rangers to clear. Celtic are really missing the presence of Edouard up front.
Close! Almost a hero-to-villain moment from Forster who makes a complete hash of Morelos' shot as the ball squirms beneath him. His blushes are saved though as Hayes wins the race to the loose ball and makes the clearance.
Rangers are waiting anxiously on the fitness of Jordan Jones and Borna Barisic.
Celtic are significantly hampered by injuries though with Jozo Simunovic, Scott Bain, Jonathan Hayes and Daniel Arzani all ruled out. Mohamed Elyounoussi, Jack Hendry, Hatem Elhamid and Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo are also doubts due to niggling injuries.