Sunday, March 15, 2009

Irish internationals secure CIS cup for Celtic

Extra-time goals by Ireland internationals Darren O'Dea and Aiden McGeady gave Celtic a deserved Co-operative Insurance Cup final victory over rivals Rangers at Hampden Park this afternoon

After 90 tense but mediocre minutes had failed to produce a goal, the game moved in to extra-time and just a minute after the restart Dublin born O'Dea, who had not scored since Celtic beat Livingston in February 2007, leapt to head a Nakamura free-kick past Allan McGregor.

In the third minute of added time at the end, Rangers defender Kirk Broadfoot was red-carded by referee Dougie McDonald for denying McGeady a clear goalscoring opportunity and the Ireland international winger scored from the spot.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan had sprung a surprise by giving a first Old Firm start to Loovens, with Gary Caldwell moving forward into midfield and misfiring strikers Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Georgios Samaras being left on the bench.

It looked like it was going to be a midfield war of attrition, with Rangers playing just Kenny Miller up front as Kris Boyd was left on the bench as expected.

Even without their moody top scorer, it was Rangers who started the brighter and Sasa Papac got in behind the Celtic defence only to be ruled offside.

But Celtic settled and began to take control to put increasing pressure on a Rangers side denied the speedy presence of in-form Madjid Bougherra, who failed a fitness test.

It took extra-time however before the two Scottish rivals could be seperated and the Irish delivered an early St. Patrick's day present to Gordon Strachan and the ten of thousand of hoops fans in Hampden Park today.

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