Rangers 1-2 Celtic: Kyogo Furuhashi's brace wins Scottish League Cup

Rangers 1-2 Celtic: Kyogo Furuhashi’s brace seals Scottish League Cup triumph for Bhoys… with Alfredo Morelos’ strike just a consolation for Michael Beale’s side as their wait for a trophy goes on

  • Celtic lift the Scottish League Cup once again with 2-1 win over rivals Rangers 
  • Kyogo Furuhashi scored twice from close range to retain trophy for the Bhoys 
  • Michael Beale’s Gers got a consolation through a strike from Alfredo Morelos 

Suggestions that the balance of power in Scottish football might be tilting back towards the south side of Glasgow appear to have been exaggerated.

For all Michael Beale has unquestionably improved Rangers since taking charge in November, they were found wanting in their quest to loosen Celtic’s grasp in the Viaplay Cup.

Ange Postecoglou’s side deservedly retained the first trophy the Australian won at Parkhead last season.

Nine points clear at the top of the Premiership, you’d get a short price on the Celtic manager at least repeating the two-trophy haul he achieved last term. A clean sweep of the domestic honours is very much on the cards now.

Celtic were not at their free-flowing best at Hampden but they were still good enough to see off an opponent that only seemed to wake up to the fact they were in a contest until it was too late.

Celtic won the Scottish League Cup for the 21st time by beating Rangers 2-1 at Hampden Park in a closely fought encounter

Kyogo Furuhashi’s brace of close range goals sealed Celtic’s 2-1 victory either side of half time as they overcame their foes

Ange Postecoglou’s side retained the trophy they won last term in a double-winning campaign

Kyogo Furuhashi hadn’t scored a goal against Rangers until he struck towards the end of the 2-2 draw at Ibrox on January 2. The Japanese now has three to his name in this fixture.

Turning home crosses either side of the interval, Furuhashi set Celtic on their way to a seventh League Cup in nine seasons and a 21st overall.

It was only when Alfredo Morelos halved the deficit soon after that Rangers looked like threatening that remarkable recent run of success.

But Beale’s side just didn’t have the wit in the final third to take the contest the distance.

A first loss for their manager since returning to the club will come with significant regret.

Postecoglou had predicted it could be a Hampden classic but, truthfully, it was an error-strewn affair with quality at a premium.

Furuhashi hadn’t been seen until he latched onto Alistair Johnston’s ball over the top midway through the first half but Allan McGregor defied the advancing years to win the foot race.

The veteran Rangers keeper did well to get a firm hand to Jota’s flashing strike.

Michael Beale’s unbeaten start as Rangers boss ended despite Alfredo Morelos’s consolation

Morelos reduced the deficit with half an hour left, but it was not enough for Rangers on the day

The wait for Rangers captain James Tavernier to lift the Scottish League Cup continues after their defeat to Celtic

Beale had clearly encouraged his players to hit long diagonals to Fashion Sakala. The winger’s pace regularly brought him into promising positions only for the finishing product to be fond lacking.

When positioned more centrally, Sakala looked set to sweep his side in front from James Tavernier’s cross. The intervention of Cameron Carter-Vickers was decisive.

Furuhashi’s threat become more apparent ads the game wore on. He sent a chip just over the top after sterling work by Jota then sent a header the same way when picked out by Johnston’s centre.

Arriving a minute before half-time, Celtic’s opener was brilliantly worked. It stemmed from Reo Hatate having enough time and poise to pick out Aaron Mooy.

Threaded between two Rangers’ defenders, the Australian’s pass was perfectly weighted for Greg Taylor.

Daizen Maeda’s swipe at the full-back’s cross ball saw him catch nothing but fresh air. The lurking Furuhashi was never going to make the same mistake. He lashed the ball home from five yards.

Rangers ought to have levelled straight after re-start. Malik Tillman released Ryan Kent. The winger’s shot across Joe Hart struck the outside of the post and presented Sakala with a gift. He fired tamely into the side net. Rangers would quickly rue that moment.

A cheap turnover of possession by skipper James Tavernier allowed Callum McGregor to find Mooy. This time Hatate provide the cross with Furuhashi sliding the ball home for the second.

Kyogo’s brace came from similar tap-ins in the six-yard box as the Rangers defence was left wanting by the Bhoys

The Japanese striker was also involved with a brace to help Celtic win the trophy last season, before repeating his feat

Rangers badly needed something to happen quickly. A free-kick for handball given against Johnston proved to be their route back into the game.

Tavernier’s delivery was poorly dealt with by Celtic’s defence. Morelos scrambled he ball home from six yards.

Rangers were better after the introduction of Nicolas Raskin without creating the gilt-edged opportunity which might have taken the game to extra-time.

Sead Haksabanovic – twice – and Matt O’Riley missed extraordinary late opportunities to settle the issue but it didn’t matter in the end. Under Postecoglou, Celtic remain the side to beat.

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