A first-half header from Jota was enough to settle a tense Old Firm encounter at Hampden, sending Celtic into a Scottish Cup final against Inverness Caley Thistle.
A catalogue of Rangers errors led to the only goal on 42 minutes, with Daizen Maeda profiting from hesitancy to provide the telling cross.
Jota simply had to nod on target from a few yards out.
Celtic will be firm favourites to complete a treble against Championship opposition on 3 June, while Rangers, the defending champions, face up to a season without a trophy.
The holders had chances to level in the second half, with James Tavernier hitting the woodwork and Fashion Sakala guilty of a bad miss from the rebound.
This was the fifth Old Firm meeting of the campaign, with Celtic well on top in the head-to-heads, winning four, with one league draw at Ibrox, where the Glasgow rivals meet again in a fortnight.
Celtic, who beat Rangers in the League Cup final in February, could well have the title wrapped up by then since they need just one more win to secure the Premiership crown.
Neither goalkeeper had much to do in the first half as a deflected shot from Nicolas Raskin fizzed wide of Joe Hart’s post in the opening minute, while Allan McGregor thwarted efforts from Alastair Johnston and Jota without too much fuss.
Celtic were attacking with more menace amid the continued chaos of blocks, hacks and last-ditch tackles, but it was a collective lack of focus from Rangers which allowed Jota to open the scoring – along with quick thinking from Maeda.
Borna Barisic and others in blue stopped, anticipating a foul near the edge of the penalty area, and that allowed Maeda to steal in and whip the ball across goal. Jota couldn’t miss with his close-range header as he ghosted away from James Tavernier.
Rangers had 45 minutes to salvage their season and started the second period with increased intensity, although it needed a sprawling save from Allan McGregor to keep out a sharp shot from Kyogo Furuhashi.
Hart matched his fellow veteran’s athleticism soon after, tipping wide a raking strike from Scott Arfield.
The Celtic keeper was beaten by a Tavernier shot from 18 yards but the ball crashed against the post, with Sakala wasting a glorious opportunity by firing the follow-up into the side-netting.
A header from Tavernier thumped into into the turf and over and Hart had to look lively to push a low cross out of Arfield’s path before the Rangers midfielder swept over from the edge of the penalty area.
With Rangers growing more desperate in search of a way back, Celtic sat deeper and deeper, absorbing all their old foes could throw at them in the closing stages.
More to follow.
- 31BarisicBooked at 27minsSubstituted forYilmazat 74′minutes
- 43RaskinSubstituted forMatondoat 74′minutes
- 13CantwellBooked at 82mins
- 71TillmanSubstituted forArfieldat 36′minutes
- 14KentSubstituted forSakalaat 45′minutes
- 20MorelosSubstituted forHagiat 83′minutes
- 2JohnstonSubstituted forRalstonat 54′minutes
- 33O’RileySubstituted forMooyat 65′minutes
- 42McGregorBooked at 88mins
- 41HatateSubstituted forIwataat 66′minutes
- 17Neves FilipeSubstituted forHaksabanovicat 66′minutes
- 8FuruhashiSubstituted forOhat 84′minutes
- 38MaedaBooked at 81mins
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