Wednesday 17 January 2018

Wilson's winner as Old Firm cauldron boils over

Celtic 1
Rangers 0

Celtic's Daniel Majstovic challenges El Hadji Diouf of Rangers during their Scottish Cup clash at Parkhead last night. Photo: Reuters
Celtic's Daniel Majstovic challenges El Hadji Diouf of Rangers during their Scottish Cup clash at Parkhead last night. Photo: Reuters

Ronnie Esplin

Mark Wilson sent Celtic into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup and landed a clear psychological blow on Rangers for the SPL title run-in after a bad-tempered encounter at Parkhead last night.

Steven Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra both saw red in a tie which also featured 10 yellow cards -- before El-Hadji Diouf was shown another red after the final whistle.

Celtic dominated the opening spell and looked dangerous when Gary Hooper beat David Weir for pace, only to be denied the shot at goal by fine defending from Richard Foster.

Kris Commons then tried to pick out Daniel Majstorovic in front of goal from another set piece, but Kyle Bartley was first to the ball to nod clear, before Ki Sung-yeung blasted over from distance.

In the 12th minute Rangers had half a chance when Diouf raced through with Lukasz Zaluska coming out to leave his goal unprotected.

However, although the former Liverpool striker got a cross in from the byline, the danger was easily snuffed out by the backtracking Hoops' defence.

For all their possession the home side could not fashion a clear chance.

Skipper Scott Brown, who continued his ongoing feud with Diouf throughout the first half, took advantage of a break of the ball to run through the Ibrox defence, but Kyle Bartley had the pace to get back and Allan McGregor smothered.


Whittaker picked up the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Ki, before Majstorovic followed him into the book for a mistimed tackle on Diouf.

However, it was Whittaker's caution which was to prove costly when he was dismissed with 35 minutes gone after he earned a second yellow card for a challenge on Emilio Izaguirre.

The red card was quickly followed by a verbal exchange between Diouf and the Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, which resulted in a caution for the Rangers forward -- with Rangers assistant Ally McCoist also hauled back by his manager, Walter Smith.

Lennon and McCoist were then both given a lecture by the referee.

Once the action was under way again, a poor back pass from Maurice Edu let Georgios Samaras through on goal and he should have had the net bulging, but Allan McGregor blocked superbly.

As the teams headed down the tunnel at half-time, there were more confrontations -- with Diouf again in the middle of things.

Celtic opened the scoring after the restart. Izaguirre burst down the left flank before crossing for Wilson whose thunderous initial effort was cleared off the line by the head of Sasa Papac before the follow-up with a drive bounced off the turf and into the back of the net.

To add to the visitors' woes Papac was stretchered off for his efforts.

Bougherra was then booked for a foul on Hooper before Samaras then passed up another great chance, this time shrugging off Bartley to race on to Scott Brown's pass -- only to see his shot crash off the post.

Bougherra was sent off in injury- time for a bad challenge on Kris Commons, although there were more chaotic scenes as Rangers players surrounded the referee in defence of their team-mate.


Even Diouf was acting like a peace-maker, although that didn't last too long as the Senegalese underlined his status among the least popular players at Parkhead by being sent off for dissent after the final whistle.

Even then it was not over as the former Liverpool and Blackburn forward marched to the Rangers supporters and threw his shirt towards them as the vitriol rained down from the stands.

Afterwards Celtic first-team coach Alan Thompson claimed Diouf sparked most of the mayhem.

"Our physio had gone on when Steven Whittaker went off and Diouf shouldered him. Neil saw it and it has gone on from there. That instigated everything.

"I am not blaming anyone, I am just telling you what Neil saw. I didn't see anything at half-time. But in terms of Neil and Ally at the end something was said that wasn't taken the right way. They have players who play on the edge but our players did as we asked from them.

"We are delighted with the performance, discipline-wise and football-wise. We picked up three yellow cards out of everything that went on. Any team that gets three red cards in one game (as Rangers did) I think that will be looked at."

Irish Independent

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