Rodgers cautious as history beckons

Moussa Dembele celebrates with his teammates

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said he has given no thought to back-to-back trebles after his team brushed Rangers aside 4-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

With the League Cup already in the bag and the Premiership title all but secured, Celtic will have the opportunity of a historic second successive treble when they face Motherwell at Hampden on May 19.

Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor put the league champions 2-0 up in the first half, with spot kicks from Moussa Dembele and Olivier Ntcham capping off the victory. Rangers also had Ross McCrorie sent off for bringing down Dembele for his penalty.

They were comfortably the better team in Mount Florida but any thoughts of sweeping to another treble are premature.

Rodgers said: “What the players have done in the last few seasons has inspired the supporters to believe that sometimes, they can achieve the impossible. When you get to these games you know what’s at stake and it’s a case of making sure the players are clear in their job and can go play their football.

“I’ve not really thought about another treble. We’re in the final now – it won’t be an easy game, it’ll be a second cup final against Motherwell. They’re an honest team and work hard. We have a job to do. We need to finish the season well and we’ll come back here with confidence.”

Celtic’s early dominance paid off when Rogic was picked out by James Forrest and, after shrugging off the attentions of McCrorie, spun the ball beyond Wes Foderingham inside the far post.

Rangers were offering little going forward and lacked any great intensity. By contrast Celtic moved the ball at speed and knew they could hurt Rangers; they did so again before the break as Kieran Tierney’s cross was poorly dealt with by Russell Martin, who hung a leg out and diverted it straight into McGregor’s path to sweep home.

The plight of the Ibrox side got worse five minutes into the second half with Mc-Crorie given a straight red card for a last-man tangle on Dembele. The French striker dinked his penalty down the middle and left Foderingham stricken.

Alfredo Morelos forced two excellent saves out of Craig Gordon and wasted another glorious chance, latching on to a rebound after Mikael Lustig’s clearance came back off his own crossbar but taking too long to finish and letting Gordon get up to block.

But Celtic got their second spot kick of the afternoon with 13 minutes to go as Jason Holt hacked down Patrick Roberts, with Ntcham doing the honours this time to crown a comfortable afternoon’s work.

Rodgers said: “In these types of games, there’ll be a bit of focus on the other manager. But I think Graeme’s done a very good job in the short period of time he’s been in. We always respect each team we play and you can see from the performance of our players how much they were looking forward to it.”

Celtic (3-4-2-1) – Gordon 7, Lustig 6, Ajer 7, Boyata 6, Forrest 7 (Roberts 73), Brown 7, Ntcham 8, Tierney 7, McGregor 7, Rogic 8 (Sinclair 61), Dembele 7 (Griffiths 79). Subs not used – Bain, Simunovic, Edouard, Kouassi.

Rangers (4-3-3) – Foderingham 5, Tavernier 6, Martin 4, McCrorie 5, John 5, Docherty 5, Halliday 4 (Windass 40), Dorrans 5 (Holt 73), Candeias 5 (Alves 53), Morelos 5, Murphy 5. Subs not used – Alnwick, Miller, Hodson, Cummings.

Referee: Bobby Madden 7.

Attendance: 49,729.

Man of the match: Olivier Ntcham.