Rangers show stamina to book Hearts date – 5 things we learned from semi-final

A 2-1 extra-time victory ended Celtic’s treble hopes.

By Press Association Published: 17 April 2022 - 6.09pm

Rangers beat Celtic 2-1 after extra time to reach the Scottish Cup final at Hampden.

The Light Blues came from behind following Greg Taylor’s 64th-minute opener. Scott Arfield levelled 12 minutes from time and Celtic could not respond as Fashion Sakala claimed the winning goal in extra time despite Carl Starfelt being credited with an own goal.

Here are five things we learned from the Hampden semi-final.

Rangers’ fitness levels are not in doubt

Calvin Bassey
Calvin Bassey set up the winner with a forward run (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Light Blues secured their second extra-time victory inside 64 hours as Calvin Bassey’s lung-bursting overlap set up the winner deep into the additional 30 minutes. Many observers tipped Celtic to make the most of their eight-day gap between games but, although Aaron Ramsey went off injured in the first half, Rangers showed little sign of suffering more fatigue than their opponents following their exertions in the Europa League quarter-finals against Braga.

Treble chances gone

Ange Postecoglou
Ange Postecoglou was looking for three trophies in his first season (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Hoops have missed out on the opportunity to record a fifth domestic clean sweep in six seasons having already claimed the Premier Sports Cup. Boss Ange Postecoglou had the opportunity to follow Martin O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers in winning a treble in his first season in charge.

Is there new life in the title fight?

John Lundstram
John Lundstram helped Rangers get the upper hand at Hampden (Steve Welsh/PA)

Rangers will hope that Celtic’s first domestic defeat in 34 matches can cause a bit of doubt in the cinch Premiership leaders, who are six points and 19 goals better off than Rangers with five matches left. Celtic lacked their usual spark up front but Giorgos Giakoumakis is expected to return against Ross County next weekend while Kyogo Furuhashi and James Forrest are coming back to fitness. But Rangers will at least have added confidence going into their May 1 encounter at Parkhead.

Both managers could have successful first seasons

Celtic v Rangers
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou, left, and Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst could both be on the verge of glory (Jane Barlow/PA)

Celtic and Rangers’ bosses are usually judged in relation to each other, but both Postecoglou and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst could be lauded after their debut campaigns. A title success and Premier Sports Cup would be hailed as a major success for Celtic amid a season of major transition on and off the park, while Rangers, regardless of the league race, have the chance to win their first domestic cup in more than a decade as well as reaching a European final, with RB Leipzig to come in their next semi-final.

A Rangers-Hearts final awaits

Gers fans will know the job is far from done. They will remember only too well what happened after their previous semi-final win over Celtic in 2016, which they followed with defeat by Championship rivals Hibernian in the final. Hearts pose a serious challenge having already clinched third place in the league and have plenty of Hampden experience following a third Scottish Cup semi-final win in four seasons. Rangers beat Hearts 5-0 in their most recent encounter but Robbie Neilson’s men drew at Ibrox earlier in the season.

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