Rangers’ trophy drought continues after losing today’s League Cup 1-0 to 10-man Celtic despite dominating for long spells at Hampden – with Celtic having Fraser Forster to thank for keeping them in the game.
The big team news going into the game was Steven Davis failing to make the starting XI after failing to overcome an injury – while Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard was only fit enough to make the bench.
The Gers were on the front foot immediately and won a corner after only 30 seconds with Tavernier’s delivery causing problems for the Celtic defence and forcing a second corner but Connor Goldson couldn’t get his header on target.
After a frenetic opening five minutes, the game started to settle into a steady rhythm with Rangers looking to put their bitter rivals under constant pressure and utilise a high press to force mistakes and deny Celtic chances to move the ball around.
The opener almost came after 14 minutes and what a goal it would have been from Ryan Jack.
After excellent play down the left by Ryan Kent, Jack’s shot from distance looked destined for the top corner but Fraser Forster made a fantastic one-handed save to keep it out.
The pressure from Rangers continued and Celtic got a massive slice of luck as Alfredo Morelos’ strike squirmed under Forster but the defence managed to just clear the ball for a corner.
Gerrard’s side had been first to everything in the opening 20 minutes but they couldn’t make their dominance count and find a way beyond Forster.
With a quarter of the game played, Celtic started to find their way into the game with Ajer heading over from Ryan Christie’s corner but the Gers looked comfortable dealing with their foray’s forward.
Morelos forced another stop from Forster after a run from deep, although he probably could have squared the ball to Kent who was free on the penalty spot.
There was real concern for Rangers after 30 minutes after Jack went down after hurting his knee in the process of breaking up a Celtic counter-attack with the midfielder having several minutes of treatment before limping off the pitch to get further assessment before returning to the pitch.
With the minutes ticking down to the half-time break, Rangers were still in the ascendency but were not taking their chances in front of goal – with Morelos denied yet again by Forster as he looked set to burst the net.
Incredibly, Willie Collum missed Celtic’s Jeremie Frimpong catching the ball at head height before booking Glen Kamara for a foul on the teenage defender.
Somehow, the sides went in still level at the break but Gerrard will surely have been the happier of the two managers after seeing his side dominate the first 45.
It was Celtic who had the first chance after the restart as Ryan Christie’s free-kick flashed across goal but nobody managed to get on the end of it and divert it goalwards.
Rangers came within inches of finally breaking the deadlock on the 50th-minute as El Buffalo got on the end of a cross but could only see his shot trickle across goal.
The Gers had the bit between their teeth and were looking the far better of the two sides as they pinned Celtic back as they looked for the opener.
Willie Collum again sparked the ire of the Rangers support after waving away a stonewall penalty after Morelos was kicked by Brown, leaving the Colombian on the deck.
Yet again Forster came to Celtic’s rescue as he somehow managed to flick Morelos’ header away from goal as a Rangers goal looked inevitable.
The opening goal came right on the hour mark but despite the Gers’ dominance, it was Christopher Jullien who fired Celtic into the lead.
The defender got on the end of a free-kick and had a tap-in it at the back post to silence the Rangers support – although replays showed the defender was offside to compound the Gers’ misery.
Gerrard’s side now had 30 minutes to turn the game around and show they deserved to take the trophy and end their eight-year trophy drought.
Willie Collum made a decision in favour of Rangers after he awarded a penalty just a minute or two later as Frimpong hauled Morelos to the deck – with the defender shown a red card for his trouble.
Morelos stepped up to hit the spot-kick but Forster was equal to it as it looked like the Colombian would never score against Celtic.
Gerrard turned to his bench with 20 minutes left as he introduced Jermain Defoe in place of Glen Kamara as he looked to salvage his first cup final as a manager.
Brandon Barker was also introduced just moments later, replacing Aribo, to inject some pace as Celtic looked to suffocate the game and see out the result.
The Gers started to look panicked as they chased the game and suddenly stopped doing the things that had worked so well in the first hour of the game.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, the Gers started to look more like they had earlier in the game and began creating chances again and moving the ball forward with intent.
There was one final, enforced, change for Rangers as Filip Helander was forced off with Niko Katic taking his place at the heart of defence.
There was still the chance late drama as Defoe went close, winning a corner in the process but the Gers wasted the opportunity as the clock worked against them.
Rangers had yet another penalty shout when Morelos was brought down by Mikey Johnston but Collum, unsurprisingly, didn’t see anything.
Gerrard’s side were handed one last chance when fourth official Kevin Clancy signalled there would be six minutes of injury-time, prompting a huge response from the Rangers end of Hampden.
Morelos had yet another opportunity to draw the Gers level but could only watch as his shot went inches wide of the far post in injury-time but it wasn’t to be as Rangers blew their first chance at silverware this season.