CELTIC 1 RANGERS 0: HAIL IDAH THE LAST-GASP HERO

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CELTIC 1 RANGERS 0

POWERHOUSE Adam Idah was Celtic’s last-gasp goal hero as Brendan Rodgers’ side sealed a league and Cup double in the Hampden sunshine.

The destination of the Scottish Cup was in the balance with the game locked at 0-0 and extra-time looming.

Paulo Bernardo, who had replaced Reo Hatate, carried the ball through from the middle of the pitch as the Ibrox opponents backed off.

The on-loan Benfica playmaker unleashed a drive from 25 yards that completely bamboozled Jack Butland as the ball swerved and changed direction in the air.

The keeper was diving to his right as he frantically thrust out a left hand. He managed to push the drive away and Idah, who had come on for Kyogo Furuhashi, was onto it in a flash.

HAMPDEN HERO…Adam Idah fires the Scottish Cup winner past Jack Butland.

The Republic of Ireland attacker raced in full pelt to get to the loose ball as the netminder attempted to scramble back to his feet. The on-loan Norwich City frontman got there first to whip the ball into the net to give Celtic their 42nd Scottish Cup.

Rodgers kept his unbeaten record at the national stadium as the holders saw out the remaining 10 minutes of stoppage-time. and Joe Hart could take his final bow as a winner before retirement at the age of 37.

There had been high drama in the 59th minute when Rangers thought they had gone ahead following a touch from Abdallah Sima at the far post in a crowded penalty area as James Tavernier curled in a left-wing delivery.

Hart went up for the cross as he came into traffic, missed the flight of the ball and it swept to the back post where the Ibrox player stuck out a knee to deflect an effort into the net from practically under the crossbar.

The much-decorated keeper was booked by Nick Walsh as he protested about being pushed before the match official was instructed by VAR to review the incident on the touchline monitor.

The ref returned to the pitch to wipe out the ‘goal’, book Nico Raskin and award Celtic a free-kick much to the jubilation of the Hoops support and the consternation of the Ibrox followers.

Images clearly showed the Belgian midfielder had used both hands to push Hart in the back as the ball was in flight. No argument. No goal.

BOOKED…Joe Hart’s protests about being pushed in the back fall on deaf ears as referee Nick Welsh flashes the yellow card.

NO GOAL…VAR review the effort that the Ibrox club hoped with give them the lead, but a clear infringement saw the ‘goal’ ruled out as Nico Raskin’s shove on Joe Hart. 

Then came Idah’s moment to savour with his ninth gal since his temporary transfer in January and now the question is: Will he return in the summer on a permanent basis?

The Hoops were more composed than their opponents in the opening half without creating too many moments of anxiety for Butland.

The keeper was called into make a smart save from an Alistair Johnston riocochet just after the half-hour mark when he swooped low to touch an effort past his left-hand post.

His opposite number, Hart, was not exactly stretched over the same period although the Ibrox side did get the first shot of the contest on target in the 18th minute.

Fabio Silva cut inside Johnston to sweep in a low drive, but the Hoops netminder anticipated the danger and got down quickly to his left to hold the effort.

The champions had the bulk of possession, but were facing a team that was prepared to work tirelessly to cut down space and were quick into the tackle.

MAKE MINE A DOUBLE…triumphant Brendan Rodgers and Callum McGregor celebrate.

Little had been seen of Hatate until he exploded onto the scene in the 20th minute after Matt O’Riley had nodded down a diagonal cross from Greg Taylor into the Japanese ace’s path.

The midfielder struck the ball first-time with his right foot from 16 yards, but Ben Davies managed to get his head to the venomous drive and the danger was averted.

The first booking of the afternoon was for Callum McGregor after a coming together with Todd Cantwell. As expected, the Englishman was theatrical in his collapse and the referee brandished a yellow card.

The first-half was all about Celtic searching for openings and their foes looking to break forward.

Daizen Maeda was threatening on the left with Tavernier appearing more than perturbed when his immediate opponent picked up pace on the left.

Kyogo was strangely subdued although he did flick in a header in the 24th minute that struck Davies on the arm, but neither Walsh nor VAR were convinced it was a penalty-kick and play was waved on. It was the correct decision.

The first-half came to a close with Johnston gifting the Ibrox outfit an unnecessary corner-kick on the left wing. Tavernier whipped over a vicious inswinger which was punched over the bar by the alert Hart.

The right-back tried again from the resultant award and again the Celtic keeper fisted clear.

HAIL, HAIL…the joyous Celtic players celebrate clinching the league and Cup double.

Celtic were a shade off the pace at the start of the second-half and were given a jolt after their opponents thought they had opened the scoring only for their effort to be correctly ruled out.

In the 61st minute, Rodgers made his first change when he took off the ineffective Kyogo and put on Idah in the move that would have dire consequences for the men from Ibrox – and send the Celtic fans into ecstasy.

Ten minutes later, Nicolas Kuhn came on for Forrest who had dropped out of the contest.

Hatate was next to be removed in the 79th minute with Bernardo taking over the midfield berth.

The Hoops reshaped as they attempted to take control once again of the Cup Final.

They got their reward in the 90th minute when Idah displayed majestic penalty-box predatory instincts to follow in Bernardo’s shot to capitalise of Butland’s mishandling of the effort.

Irish eyes were certainly smiling at Hampden on this occasion!

TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor, Hatate (sub: Bernardo 79); Forrest (sub: Kuhn 71), Kyogo (sub: Idah 61), Maeda.

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