• Falkirk 1-3 Celtic
Celtic's impressive run is edging ever closer to returning tangible reward. Neil Lennon's team have gone 18 domestic matches without defeat. Their deserved victory at Hampden, albeit over an impressively enterprising Falkirk side, secured a League Cup final meeting with Kilmarnock on 18 March. Celtic's run aside, the fact that Kilmarnock have competed in five finals in this competition without winning a single one points towards the likely outcome.
An uplifting contest could not pass without controversy. Steven Pressley, the Falkirk manager, watched the second period from the stand after complaining a little too vociferously as the teams left the field at half-time about the award of the penalty which led to Celtic's opening goal. In reality Darren Dods was guilty of something akin to a rugby tackle on Thomas Rogne.
"I haven't seen it again so I will not say it wasn't a penalty," Pressley said. "I would just ask, would it have been given in the other penalty box? That's all I'll ask. I am not proud of what happened at half-time. I am a passionate manager and I have to keep my emotions in check. I was just disappointed with a decision that had a huge bearing on the game."
Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, was nonplussed about the affair. "I know Steven was complaining about the penalty but Thomas said Dods had his arms round him and he was impeded," he said.
Lennon was more interested in an earlier disallowed Gary Hooper strike for Celtic, on account of a non-existent offside. "It was onside. For me we had a good goal chalked off so I don't think they [Falkirk] can complain about the referee."
Such matters should not detract from an engaging semi-final. Pressley and his batch of promising young players are worthy of credit for their approach. Scott Brown sent Celtic in front after 27 minutes with a forceful spot-kick, at a time when the game was essentially even. Falkirk highlighted that with a fine equaliser, slotted home by Jay Fulton after a pass from the outstanding Karl Higginbotham.
Yet Celtic should have been back in front by the break. Rogne wasted a glorious opportunity from Brown's free-kick before James Forrest dallied sufficiently when through on Michael McGovern to allow the Falkirk goalkeeper to save. Fulton scooped over the bar six minutes into the second half but from there Lennon's men took a firm grip on proceedings. Rogne headed against the bar before Anthony Stokes sent the Premier League team back in front, with a sublime free-kick from 25 yards.
The Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster produced an excellent double save to deny Dods and Stewart Murdoch, emphasising why a third goal was needed to settle the tie. Stokes supplied it at close range after Hooper's cut-back.
Afterwards Lennon confirmed the Polish striker Pawel Brozek is on the verge of sealing a loan move to Celtic from Trabzonspor. Rangers had hoped to coax the 28-year-old to Ibrox. "His record in Poland is excellent," said Lennon. "Things haven't gone his way in Turkey but he's got the European Championship coming up, in his come country, so he'll be very motivated to book a place in the Polish squad. What we know is he's a goalscorer. I know Rangers were interested but we have been tracking him for a long time."
The manager will not let anybody at his club talk about a domestic treble but there is a growing possibility of Celtic achieving it.