Celtic manager Ronny Deila has set his sights on a domestic treble after his side cruised into the Scottish League Cup final following a comfortable 2-0 victory over rivals Rangers.
Sunday’s match at Hampden was the first meeting of the Old Firm since April 2012 with Rangers forced to start life again in the country’s bottom tier following liquidation in June 2012.
The Hoops lived up to their billing as overwhelming favourites as they dominated an uneven contest between the sides who are more used to be battling it out for supremacy in Scotland, but are now separated by a division.
Celtic, who top the Scottish Premiership, will now face Dundee United in the final on March 15 and take on Dundee in the Scottish Cup next week as Deila attempts to become only the third manager in the Parkhead club’s history to claim a clean sweep of domestic trophies.
“We have to enjoy the moment. To win the semi-final is a big thing but myself and the players want to win the treble and we haven’t won any trophies yet,” the Celtic manager said.
“The final is going to be tough against Dundee United but we had to come through this game to get to the final. Everything is possible now.
“Saturday against Dundee [in the Scottish Cup] is a very important game now and it’s very motivating to see in front of you that you can win everything.”
Leigh Griffiths headed home the opener after just 10 minutes and Kris Commons, one of four Celtic players in the starting 11 who had featured in the fixture previously, rifled home a second in the 31st minute as the Hoops threatened to run riot.
The rout failed to materialise but Deila praised his side’s focussed performance while hitting out at the terrible state of the pitch at Hampden, which had hosted the semi-final between Dundee United and Aberdeen less than 24 hours previously.
“I think we were well organised and there was very good discipline in the team and also a lot of experience,” the Celtic manager said.
“I wanted to go for three but we didn’t manage it. We wanted to really go and kill the game but we killed it in another way by being solid at the back.
“We kept them away from the goal but we wanted to attack more.
“We are a passing team but we had no chance to pass the ball on that pitch. The quality of the pitch was not how it should be for the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup.
“It was very hard to entertain our fans.”
Despite an absence of nearly three years, the atmosphere before the 400th competitive outing of one of world football’s fiercest rivalries was strangely subdued until the teams emerged at Hampden.
Both sets of supporters soon found their voices, however, with the Hoops fans goading their rivals about their fall from grace and the ongoing financial problems and boardrooms battles that continue to plaque the club.
It was a first experience of the fixture for Deila, who took charge of Celtic in the summer, and while admitting he enjoyed the atmosphere, he expressed his relief at emerging with a victory.
“The best thing in football is when you sit after a game like this, with such a great atmosphere, and you have won,” the Norwegian said.
“You can sit down and relax and enjoy the moment.
“I was at the Celtic versus Barcelona match and that was an unbelievable atmosphere. This was at the same level and maybe better as this was two teams creating it.
“It was a great experience and it makes it much better when you win of course.”
Rangers caretaker manager Kenny McDowall and his side will now turn their attention on trying to catch Hearts in the race for the Scottish Championship and the one automatic promotion spot back to the Scottish Premiership.
“It was 2-0 but I thought we competed well,” McDowall said.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere and a great opportunity to get to a final. I’m bitterly disappointed we couldn’t do it but it’s gone so we need to move on.”
Photo Credits : AFP