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Scott Sinclair fired up by Celtic treble drive

Celtic 2-0 Rangers

By Andy Newport

Scott Sinclair believes completing the treble will be the perfect way to cap off his dream debut season at Celtic.

The Hoops wide man tucked away a second half spot kick to help his team see off Rangers 2-0 in the semi-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

That Hampden triumph means the Parkhead outfit are just one win away from wrapping up a domestic clean sweep for the first time since 2001.

Sinclair admits that kind of feat was the furthest thing from his mind when Brendan Rodgers persuaded him to make his move to Glasgow last summer.

The former Chelsea youngster was in danger of becoming the forgotten man of England after moves to Manchester City and Aston Villa turned sour.

But the 28-year-old is now a leading candidate to be crowned Scotland's player of the year after a 24-goal campaign and he confessed he is loving every minute of Celtic's trophy chase.

Sinclair said: "The manager has installed a winning mentality in every player in this team. It would mean the world to us all if we could win the treble but there's still a long way to go before the final.

"I've been asked a few times if I could ever have envisioned my move up to Glasgow going so well and the answer is 'no'. It's probably gone better to be honest.

"The main thing for me was to come up here and start enjoying football again and to play week in, week out.

"I have a manager who believes in me now, so I couldn't ask for much more.

"He's helped get my confidence back. It was always there but when you're in and out of teams for a couple of years it's difficult to get going.

"Now I'm back in form - scoring and playing well - so there's no better feeling."

Celtic were always in control as they lined up against Pedro Caixinha's Gers side but only had Callum McGregor's 11th-minute opener to show for their first half dominance.

But Sinclair made sure of the win with his penalty after James Tavernier hauled down Leigh Griffiths six minutes into the second period.

"It was one of the best team performances we've had all season," added Sinclair.

"We controlled the game from start to finish and it was a great performance. It's always nice to get the second goal. If it stayed at 1-0 maybe we'd have been on the back foot a bit more.

"Their keeper got a hand to my penalty but it was never in doubt. When I put the ball down, I'm always confident before I step up and take the pen.

"Right from the start we felt comfortable in the game with the way we passed the ball around and created chances.

"Obviously me putting the pen away to make it 2-0 made it more comfortable.

"It's always a nice feeling to be in a final. I missed the League Cup one but I can't get too excited, we just need to take it every step as they come.

"We've still got five games to play in the league and we want to make sure we do a job in that."

The one disappointment for the Parkhead faithful was the sight of 32-goal top scorer Moussa Demeble limping off after injuring his hamstring.

The Frenchman will undergo a scan this week to determine the extent of the damage but Sinclair is keeping his fingers crossed his team-mate will not see his own remarkable first season in Scotland curtailed.

He said: "Moussa has had a great season but it would be a shame if he were to miss out on the cup final. Hopefully it's not too bad and he's back in a couple of weeks."

Scott Brown applauded a "professional performance" as the Hoops comfortably progressed to next month's showpiece with Aberdeen.

"It was a very professional performance," said the Hoops skipper.

"We knew if we turned up then we would win the game and we've done that on the day.

"I think in the first half we kept the ball and gave them no chances. We could have scored two or three but, I've got to be honest, the fans and the players gave everything today and we deserve to be in the final.

"We know when we turn up that our game is unbelievable. The gaffer's (Brendan Rodgers) taken us to another level and the lads have all responded really well to that."

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney, Armstrong, Brown; Roberts (Forrest, 82 mins), McGregor (Rogic, 75 mins), Sinclair; Dembele (Griffiths, 34 mins). Unused subs: Bailly, Gamboa, Sviatchenko, Kouassi

RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Bates, Wilson, Beerman, Hyndman (Windass, 79 mins), Holt, Halliday (McKay, 46 mins), Miller, Garner (Dodoo, 46 mins), Waghorn

Unused subs: Alnwick, Hill, Toral, Hodson.

Referee: Willie Collum

Man of the match: Scott Brown

Match rating: 7/10

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