Celtic thrash Aberdeen to reach final
Four second-half goals helped Celtic reach the Scottish Cup final with a comfortable 4-0 win over Aberdeen who played the majority of the game with ten men at Hampden on Sunday.
Both sides had chances before last man Andrew Considine saw red in the 18th minute as he brought down Gary Hooper in the box but Jamie Langfield stopped Anthony Stokes' spot-kick and made a series of saves to send his side in level at the break.
Charlie Mulgrew put Celtic ahead with a 25-yard free-kick three minutes into the second-half and Joe Ledley doubled the lead in the 57th minute. Hooper scored Celtic's second penalty of the game six minutes later before substitute Shaun Maloney tapped in a late fourth to send the Hoops into the 21 May final where they will met Motherwell.
Neil Lennon was delighted to get to his first Scottish Cup final as manager. "I have got to pay a lot of credit to the team today as they were excellent," he said. "We have got something to look forward to at the end of the season but the championship is our priority."
His Aberdeen counterpart Craig Brown said the better team had won. "I thought we were doing ok until we got the red card," said the former Scotland coach, who left Motherwell to take over at Aberdeen earlier this season.
"I think it is a harsh situation to concede the penalty and an ordering off but that's the law of the game. It made a big uphill task for us. To play against the best passing side in the country a man short is very difficult and then we did concede softly."
It was Aberdeen who had the first chance when Josh Magennis had Fraser Forster scrambling across his goal to stop his low drive sneaking in. Stokes sent a glancing header over the bar after connecting with Kris Commons' curling cross before he was denied by the legs of the outrushing Langfield.
Early Aberdeen setback
Aberdeen were having luck down the wings and Scott Vernon wasn't far away with a header from Sone Aluko's delivery. The Dons had been on the receiving end of four defeats from the Hoops this season and their task was made even harder when they were reduced to ten men.
Considine was shown a straight red for clipping the heels of Hooper as he was about to shoot but Langfield was the hero for Aberdeen as he made a great stop to save Stokes' spot-kick and then blocked his rebound. The keeper denied Stokes again seven minutes later when he got the better of Ryan Jack but Langfield blocked his low shot with his body.
Aberdeen were giving a good account of themselves and Chris Maguire should have done better when he met Rob Milsom's chipped pass ten yards out but he couldn't direct his header away from Forster.
The in-form Langfield threw his body in front of Hooper's shot to deny him just after the break and was relieved to see a fierce shot from Commons then flash by the post. However the keeper was finally beaten in the 49th minute. Former Dons player Mulgrew's curling free-kick from 25 yards evaded everyone in a congested box and bounced in off the far post.
The Dons had the ball in the net in the 56th minute when Maguire lifted a ball from Magennis over Forster's head but the flag was already up for offside and almost immediately Celtic increased their lead. Stokes raced down the left wing and picked out Ledley on the penalty spot and the Welsh midfielder directed an angled first time effort past Langfield and into the bottom corner of the net.
Celtic were awarded their second penalty of the match in the 63rd minute following a sliding challenge on Stokes by Young. This time Hooper stepped up and made no mistake as he sent Langfield the wrong way to end the game as a contest.
Commons and Stokes both missed chances before Maloney got the fourth in the 84th minute when he was on hand to tap in Mark Wilson's fiercely driven ball across goal into the net.