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Celtic cruise past Old Firm rivals into Scottish League Cup final

Glasgow’s Old Firm renewed hostilities at Hampden Park, with Celtic comfortably beating bitter rivals Rangers through first-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons in the second Scottish League Cup semi-final.

Separated by a division, their first meeting in three seasons was over as a contest by half an hour. Rangers, in crisis off the field, looked rusty throughout following a flurry of postponements, and their failure to settle into this long-awaited occasion is what cost them.

Ronny Deila’s Bhoys, who are now odds-on 2/7 favourites with Coral to lift this trophy, took just 10 minutes to take the lead with Leigh Griffiths heading a Stefan Johansen’s centre back across goal to profit from static Gers defending.

Sloppiness from the Ibrox outfit continued to be a theme, with Anthony Stokes lashing over for Celtic before Commons’ class doubled their lead. Nicky Law was caught very cheaply in possession, and the former Derby County and Nottingham Forest player fired home from the edge of the D.

Griffiths may have extended the Bhoys’ advantage, but referee Craig Thomson failed to play an advantage when he was clean through. In-demand defender Virgil van Dijk then headed over a Stokes corner, and Rangers stopper Steve Simonsen saved from Johansen at point-blank range before half time.

Celtic didn’t need to add to their two goals after the break, and that is what will be so galling for Gers supporters. The likes of Kris Boyd and David Templeton were left on the bench by on-notice caretaker boss Kenny McDowall, with Jon Daly and later Nicky Clark thrown on, but to no avail.

Deila’s side delivered here, and had effortless control of midfield. Not even the intensity of this rivalry could rouse veterans Lee McCulloch and Kenny Miller in Rangers’ spine to lift those tasting the Old Firm for the first time.

Easy victories are the norm for the Bhoys but, perhaps here more than most, it was disappointing to be home and hosed after half an hour. Gers are going to find it difficult to get out of the Scottish Championship this term and are 9/1 to somehow catch Hearts, while the top flight title certainly has Celtic’s name on it.