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Celtic boss Lennon braced for tough Scottish Cup semi-final with Aberdeen

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Neil Lennon has told his side to prepare for another awkward Scottish Cup tie after the holders secured a semi-final with Aberdeen following a hard-fought 1-0 win away to St Johnstone.

Sunday’s match at McDiarmid Park was still goalless when, with just nine minutes remaining, Ryan Christie curled in a free-kick from out wide that appeared to go straight into Zander Clark’s net, although Christopher Jullien also claimed the goal.

Lennon had demanded an “angry reaction” from his side following their midweek Europa League round of 32 exit at the hands of Danish side FC Copenhagen, but the Hoops were frustrated for much of the match by a resolute St Johnstone.

The Hoops, however, did just enough in the end to record a 34th successive win in a domestic cup competition.

Celtic, who have won the last three Scottish Cup finals and are eyeing a ninth straight league title, will be favourites to extend that sequence to 36 wins given arch-rivals Rangers’ quarter-finals loss to Hearts on Saturday.

The draw was made shortly after full-time at McDiarmid Park, with Hearts facing Edinburgh rivals Hibernian in the other semi-final.

“Whoever we were going to play whether it be Hearts, Hibs, or Aberdeen, it is going to be tough,” said Lennon.

“Hibs are in good form, Hearts had a great win last night (against Rangers) and Aberdeen are Aberdeen, they can beat anybody on their day… We still have a lot to play for this season off the back of the disappointing result on Thursday.”

Aberdeen lost 2-1 to Celtic in the 2017 final, with the Glasgow giants seeing off Hearts by the same scoreline in the climax of last season’s edition as Lennon’s men completed a domestic treble.

Hibernian were the last side to win the Scottish Cup before Celtic, beating Rangers 3-2 in the 2016 final.

Both semi-final ties will be played on the weekend of April 11-12.

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