Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers booked a place in the Scottish Cup final after a dramatic penalty shoot-out Sunday in an action-packed semi-final against Old Firm rivals Celtic that ended 2-2 after extra-time at Hampden.
Australia international Tom Rogic blasted the decisive spot-kick over the bar to hand Rangers a 5-4 victory after Callum McGregor and Scott Brown had also missed.
Rangers could now end their four-year exile from Europe if they can defeat Hibernian in May’s final.
The match at Hampden was just the second time in four years that the Glasgow giants have clashed since Rangers were forced to start life again in the country’s bottom tier following an amazing fall from grace that resulted in liquidation in June 2012.
Veteran striker Kenny Miller, who has played for both sides of the Old Firm divide, had fired Rangers into a 16th minute lead before Patrick Roberts blew a golden chance to level for Celtic before the break when he missed an open goal.
Substitute Erik Sviatchenko had Celtic level five minutes after the break with a bullet header as the game headed to extra time.
Barrie McKay restored Rangers’ lead in the 96th minute before Rogic, who was to end the afternoon as the vilain, rifled home a 106th minute leveller.
Their last meeting in January 2015 saw Celtic cruise to a 2-0 victory in the semi-final of the League Cup.
However, Rangers’ are unrecognisable from then with new manager Mark Warburton leading his side to the Championship title and promotion back to the top flight.
With the resumption of regular Old Firm matches in the Scottish Premiership from next season, the match was seen as a gauge of how big the gap between the sides is.
However, Rangers, with several Old Firm debutants in their side, coped well as the noise levels were cranked up and it was the Ibrox club that drew first blood through Miller.
A free-kick was only cleared as far as Halliday whose pass into the box was deflected into the path of Miller by Celtic skipper Brown and the former Hoops players swivelled to lash the ball beyond Gordon.
A horrendous miss from Roberts saw Celtic blow a golden chance to level the match in the 33rd minute.
Griffiths saw his impressive effort hit the inside of the post and bounce out to Roberts who somehow sent his left-footed effort into the side netting from five yards out with the goal gaping.
Celtic’s half-time team seemed to do the trick as they found themselves on level terms five minutes into the second half.
Roberts floated a corner into the box that Sviatchenko met with a powerful header that flew into the top corner over Danny Wilson on the line.
Rangers restored their advantage six minutes into the first half of extra time with a fabulous strike from McKay.
Referee Craig Thomson controversially overruled his assistant to give a throw-in to Rangers which was quickly taken to McKay who smacked an unstoppable swerving strike into the top corner from 20 yards.
Celtic levelled the match in the 106th minute as Rogic got on the end of Tierney’s cut-back to slam the ball past Foderingham before suffering heartbreak as he missed the vital spot-kick.