Celtic 2 Rangers 0 (aet): O'Dea the hero as Bhoys beat bitter rivals to land CIS Cup

By Peter Jardine for MailOnline

Move over, Joe Miller.

Darren O'Dea and Aiden McGeady wrote themselves into the pages of Parkhead history yesterday as Celtic claimed their first Hampden final victory over Rangers for two decades to lift the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

Miller was the last Hoops hero to score a winner on one of these occasions, in the 1989 Scottish Cup Final, and had spoken last week of his clear desire for a new Bhoy to take his place. Make that two Bhoys.

Aiden McGeady

Aiden McGeady holds aloft the trophy after Celtic's victory over Rangers in the CIS Cup final

Irish defender O'Dea was first to gratefully accept the invitation, with a header in the opening minute of extra-time from Shunsuke Nakamura's pinpoint delivery.

Then, deep into injury-time, McGeady coolly converted a penalty for 2-0 after Kirk Broadfoot had been sent off for a blatant trip on the Republic of Ireland midfielder.

It was more than ample consolation for Celtic after their Scottish Cup exit at St Mirren a week earlier. Rangers could only look on in horror as their Treble dreams were extinguished in mid-March.

Trailing Gordon Strachan in the SPL title race, Walter Smith is now under severe pressure to deliver after an agonising afternoon for the Ibrox fans.

Substitute Kris Boyd was the man charged with marking O'Dea ahead of the Celtic opener.

But the defender eluded him and Boyd won't be reflecting on this week as the most illustrious of his Ibrox career.

Darren O'Dea

Darren O'Dea celebrates his goal with Celtic team-mates

The Hoops were worthy of their win in a tense final that, for so long, became a war of attrition with, frankly, dud ammunition. Celtic had come closest to scoring in normal time, when Pedro Mendes blocked on the line from Glenn Loovens and Allan McGregor denied Nakamura.

Man-of-the-match Scott Brown, Loovens and Andreas Hinkel made excellent contributions and, of course, it was a day that O'Dea and McGeady will remember forever. So, too, will Strachan. Eight days ago, the radio phone-ins featured calls for his dismissal following that St Mirren defeat. After four years in Glasgow, his ability to bounce back should no longer surprise.

Rangers? They spent almost the entire match trying to cover the absence of Madjid Bougherra. The injured Algerian was sorely missed and Rangers eventually even pitched on Christian Dailly after months in cold storage. Boyd, following that midweek row with Smith about his 'attitude', started on the bench, with Kyle Lafferty positioned out left in support of Kenny Miller.

how they rated celtic rangers.jpg

how they rated celtic rangers.jpg

Strachan left out misfiring strikers Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Georgios Samaras, and fielded McGeady off Scott McDonald.

He can argue that he called it right. Loovens started alongside Stephen McManus, while Gary Caldwell moved into midfield at the expense of Spaniard Marc Crosas.

It took 26 minutes for the match to catch fire, with Brown lighting the fuse.

First, he was warned by referee Dougie McDonald for a lunge at Lafferty, before sending a 25-yard strike whizzing over. Then, after Loovens had headed wide, Brown really should have scored.

McGeady tore past Steven Whittaker down the left and his cross was volleyed over by the former Hibs midfielder.

Players from both sides were looking accusingly at the new pitch by this stage, Lafferty having punted a cross-cum-shot well off target after a bobble. Five minutes before the break, Rangers should have done better again when Steven Davis was set up by Sasa Papac only to blaze over.

As the Ibrox side sought to impose themselves, Lafferty won a break of the ball to run away from Hinkel before the German was booked for chopping him down. Mendes stood over the free-kick but his effort struck the Celtic wall. Artur Boruc then made a good stop from Lafferty after the striker chested the ball down and lashed in a right-foot strike.

After the interval, Rangers switched Lafferty to the striker's role, with Miller moved to the left. At the other end, McGeady wasted a promising situation when he tried to pick out a lurking McDonald only to over-hit his pass.

There followed a series of tit-fortat raids, a 20-yard strike by Davis going wide of Boruc's right-hand post and McGeady outnumbered by blue shirts after a promising run. Once Smith had replaced Miller with Nacho Novo after 59 minutes, Lafferty almost capitalised on a moment of indecision between McManus and Boruc.

The Pole didn't fancy his captain's passback to his left foot, and was almost caught out by Lafferty in a dithering attempt to switch it to his right.

Boruc eventually shanked the ball into touch. Another big moment arrived in the 63rd minute when David Weir tripped McGeady, with Novo booked for moving the ball ahead of the free-kick.

When Nakamura was finally allowed to take it, McGregor made a flying fingertip save. Weir was next for a card, his lack of pace exposed as McGeady beat him to the ball. Celtic threatened from the set-piece, too, Lee McCulloch finally scrambling away a half-hit shot by Loovens.

The Dutchman came even closer after 70 minutes. His flick from Paul Hartley's corner was netbound until Mendes, stationed on a post, cleared off the line.

Strachan threw on Samaras thereafter, with Hartley the man to make way. Boruc saved well from Novo, while McCulloch was not far away with a header from the resultant corner, before Boyd replaced Lafferty. Mendes then fired wide and Dailly came on for McCulloch, with another 30 minutes beckoning.

But Celtic came out of the traps firing on all cylinders a minute into the extra period. After Whittaker felled McDonald, O'Dea was free to bullet home Nakamura's set-piece. McDonald should have settled things when he seized upon a Broadfoot error, but fired wide with Weir breathing down his neck.

Rangers also had another let-off when Samaras wastefully shot over. McGregor then saved from Brown and thwarted Samaras, with Celtic so close to wrapping up victory. Strachan replaced O'Dea with Mark Wilson during the extra-time break but there were few scares as Rangers became more desperate.

None more so than Broadfoot, who hacked down McGeady to give referee McDonald the easiest decision of the day, his red card adding to earlier bookings for Hinkel, O'Dea, Boruc, McGeady, Novo, Weir and McCulloch.

McGeady took the spot-kick to cap an afternoon when Celtic came up with all the answers following their Paisley inquest. All the Old Firm pressure has moved to Govan.

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