Celtic set up a first-ever Old Firm final in the Scottish Women’s Cup as they battled past Glasgow City at Hampden. Natasha Flint’s first-half finish was enough for Fran Alonso’s side, despite a late red card for Natalie Ross. This was a landmark weekend for the women’s game in Scotland, with both semi-finals held at the national stadium. The defeat leaves league leaders City ruing a miserable week, with SWPL defeats by Celtic and Rangers blowing the title race wide open. Celtic are two points off City, with Rangers a further point behind, setting up a dramatic conclusion ahead of the cup final on 28 May.
The game started off cagey, with the referee producing yellow cards in little more than six minutes. Celtic attempted to probe with progressive passes out of the backline and this tactic paid dividends when Caitlin Hayes sliced the ball forward to Flint, who opened up her body and slammed the ball home for the opener. City’s response was reliant on the enterprise of Lauren Davidson, who fizzed the ball past the wrong side of a post moments after the goal and forced goalkeeper Pamela Tajonar into the first real save of the game with an arrowed strike from 25 yards. Priscila Chinchilla dazzled her way past multiple Celtic bodies to tee up Hayley Lauder, but her effort bounded off target. Chances were at a premium in the rest of the game as both sides tussled fiercely. The game’s stop-start nature still featured fascinating moments, as Celtic substitute Kit Loferski failed to make it onto the pitch despite being brought on for more than five minutes. Tajonar was twice called into action in the dying moments to ensure her side’s final berth, first keeping Lisa Forrest out with a sprawling leg before again denying Davidson with a flying save. Although a late red shown to Ross threatened to spoil Celtic’s celebrations, their goalkeeper’s late heroics saw her lap up the adulation of her team-mates at full-time as her side sealed a second successive Scottish Cup final.
Celtic’s season is back on track in what has been a woeful week for City. Two wins in a week over Glasgow City have changed the complexion of the season for Celtic, narrowing the gap at the top of the league and booking a spot in the Scottish Cup final. This encounter was far less enthralling than their league meeting last Sunday, but Celtic may not have been at their best at Hampden, but they were clinical in their one real chance of the tie, setting up a showpiece final against Rangers. In the same seven-day period, City’s season could well have crumbled before their very eyes. The league defeat by Celtic was a blow, the late loss against Rangers was a worry, and this cup exit underlines a truly miserable period for the previously unbeaten Leanne Ross. They still lead the division, but their recent failings in the big encounters could prove a bruising psychological hurdle as they face off against both Old Firm sides again in the title run-in.