Aberdeen 3 – 3 Celtic

Joe Hart was Celtic’s penalty hero as they beat Aberdeen in a frantic game at Hampden Park to reach the Scottish Cup final.

The Hoops goalkeeper denied Killian Phillips in the shootout after he had missed an earlier penalty to maintain Brendan Rodgers’ winning run at the national stadium.

It was a drama-filled game at Hampden Park as Nicholas Kuhn pulled Celtic level after Bojan Miovski’s opener for the Dons inside three minutes.

James Forrest came off the bench to show what he still has to offer at Celtic, curling in a low shot past Roos to send the Hoops fans wild.

But Aberdeen weren’t beaten and after Miovski and Junior Hoilett went close, Ester Sokler headed home at the back post as the full-time whistle approached.

Matt O’Riley rifled a shot into the roof of the net in extra-time before Angus MacDonald struck to take the game to penalties.

With sudden death approaching in the shootout, Hart reacted to ensure he will end his career with a Scottish Cup final against Rangers or Hearts on May 25.

Celtic edge Aberdeen in Hampden epic

Celtic are through to the Scottish Cup final on May 25
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Celtic are through to the Scottish Cup final on May 25

Brendan Rodgers has enjoyed far more straightforward afternoons at Hampden but still earned a perfect 10th victory at the national stadium in his first game here since the League Cup final in December 2018.

The Dons stunned the favourites two minutes in. Leighton Clarkson played a perfect pass inside Cameron Carter-Vickers to get Miovski in behind and the North Macedonia striker beat Hart to claim his 24th goal of the campaign.

Bojan Miovski celebrates Aberdeen's early opener against Celtic
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Bojan Miovski celebrates Aberdeen’s early opener against Celtic

Celtic created two half-chances to equalise but Hyun-jun Yang headed over and Kelle Roos stood up to parry Kyogo Furuhashi’s effort.

Aberdeen were otherwise keeping Celtic at bay until MacDonald took a poor second touch on the ball midway inside his half in the 21st minute. Furuhashi to raced away before his effort was blocked by Stefan Gartenmann, but the ball fell kindly for Kuhn, who rolled it past a stranded Roos.

Aberdeen had the best opportunity to take an interval lead but Hart saved from Gartenmann and Celtic had a let-off in the closing stages of the half when Scales handled just outside the box, according to a VAR check.

Celtic's Nicolas Kuhn celebrates as he scores to make it 1-1 during the Scottish Cup semi-final
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Celtic’s Nicolas Kuhn celebrates as he scores to make it 1-1 during the Scottish Cup semi-final

Rodgers made his first changes in the 62nd minute, Callum McGregor replaced by Tomoki Iwata and Yang making way for Forrest. The 32-year-old had a shot blocked even before netting 90 seconds after coming on.

The winger dropped the shoulder to cut inside his man before curling a perfect shot just inside the far post from 23 yards. It was his ninth goal in the latter stages of cup competitions.

Forrest forced Roos into a diving save but the game changed with the introduction of a second Aberdeen striker, Sokler, in the 79th minute.

Aerial balls led to two excellent chances for another substitute, Hoilett, but a poor first touch saw him miss the first and Carter-Vickers blocked on the line from the second opportunity.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 20: James Forrest celebrates after scoring to make it 2-1 Celtic during a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final match between Aberdeen and Celtic at Hampden Park, on April 20, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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James Forrest celebrates after scoring to make it 2-1 Celtic

Scales headed over from six yards and Celtic paid the price for a poor pass forward from substitute Luis Palma. The ball was worked to Hoilett, who crossed to the back post for Sokler to head home.

Sokler stabbed wide in the opening moments of extra-time, although he would possibly have been called offside if it had gone to VAR, and Celtic got back on top before taking the lead in stoppage time of the first period.

Forrest threaded a pass that allowed Alistair Johnston to run in behind and cut back for O’Riley, who found the top corner from eight yards.

Matt O'Riley scores in extra time to make it 3-2 to Celtic
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Matt O’Riley scores in extra time to make it 3-2 to Celtic

The drama continued. Adam Idah had a headed goal disallowed for offside before failing to turn O’Riley’s square ball home.

Celtic survived another VAR penalty check after Carter-Vickers caught Hoilett, the video officials backing referee Don Robertson’s view that the Aberdeen winger had committed a foul on Johnston seconds beforehand.

Sokler missed from close range before MacDonald headed home in a near carbon copy of Sokler’s equaliser to spark wild celebrations on the trackside between players and fans.

Aberdeen's Angus MacDonald celebrates with Killian Phillips after scoring to make it 3-3
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Aberdeen’s Angus MacDonald celebrates with Killian Phillips after scoring to make it 3-3

Even the shootout had some outrageous twists. The first seven penalties were scored before Roos went down with apparent cramp and needed treatment. Ryan Duncan hit the post after the long delay.

The Celtic fans got a shock when Hart stepped up to take the penalty that would have sent Celtic into the final. The goalkeeper also hit the post.

Hoilett netted to send the tie into sudden death but Hart had the final say as he denied Phillips.

What the managers said…

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers:

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Brendan Rodgers was delighted to see Celtic see off Aberdeen in a dramatic Hampden Park clash to reach the Scottish Cup final.

Aberdeen interim boss Peter Leven:

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Aberdeen interim boss Peter Leven was proud of his players despite their defeat to Celtic on penalties in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

What’s next?

Aberdeen’s next match is at home to Motherwell on April 27. Kick-off 3pm.

Celtic return to Scottish Premiership action on April 28 at Dundee, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 3pm.

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