Tommy Burns' side had failed in their last nine attempts to win against their fiercest rivals and, with a league game between the two on 16 March, it was imperative that Celtic took something from this tie. They did so thanks to a combination of aggression, skill and genius.
They tied up the midfield area, suffocating their opponents, while in attack Paolo di Canio, their Italian striker, showed the flair for which he is becoming renowned.
Brian Laudrup was denied by a seventh-minute save from Celtic's goalkeeper Stewart Kerr and this proved a turning point. Three minutes later Di Canio swung a corner to the near post and the ball was met by Malky Mackay, the Celtic defender, and the header was firm and true.
Seven minutes later Celtic scored from a penalty. Tosh McKinlay hit a diagonal pass into the Rangers penalty area, Jorge Cadete won the race with Joachim Bjorklund, but a nudge on the Celtic forward sent him spinning to the ground. Di Canio shot into the corner of the net from the spot as Andy Goram, the Rangers goalkeeper, moved in the other direction.
The tactical switch by Burns to play with three defenders at the back was allowing his wingbacks, McKinlay and Jackie McNamara, to push forward and exert pressure on Rangers. They almost cracked again in the 20th minute when Di Canio tumbled under a challenge from Alan McLaren but this time penalty claims were waived aside. Five minutes later another, which looked a clear-cut decision, was turned down as Peter Grant appeared to be fouled by David Robertson.
Rangers lost Erik Bo Andersen after 38 minutes following a clash of heads with Alan Stubbs, the Celtic defender. The Danish striker was later diagnosed in hospital as having a fractured skull. Ally McCoist took his place and also suffered from a lack of service.
Celtic maintained their grip in the second half but without the mercurial Di Canio, who failed to reappear after the interval, they were unable to create as many chances.
Rangers' best chance fell to Craig Moore in the 73rd minute but his header was pushed over the bar by Kerr.
Celtic (3-5-2): Kerr; Annoni, Stubbs, Mackay; McNamara, Grant, McStay, O'Donnell (Hannah, 88), McKinlay; Di Canio (Thom, h-t), Cadete. Substitute not used: Van Hooijdonk.
Rangers (3-5-2): Goram; Petric, McLaren, Bjorklund; Cleland (Durrant, 85), Moore, Ferguson, Albertz (Van Vossen, 65), Robertson; Andersen (McCoist, 38), Laudrup.
Referee: T McCluskey (Stewarton).Reuse content