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Derek McInnes insists the emotional high of reaching the Europa League semi-final will get Rangers through today’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

The Ibrox side face Celtic in a huge game at the national stadium less than 72 hours after playing 120 minutes against Braga on Thursday night.

In reality, that game should have been over long before Braga hit Rangers with a sucker punch late on to take it into extra time, but they managed to get the job done in the end.

But they face a Celtic side that haven’t played for eight days and were able to get a full week’s training in ahead of the match.

That should mean they will come out of the blocks flying in an attempt to hit Rangers early but McInnes insists the fatigue can’t be an excuse for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men.

In his Mail on Sunday column, he said: “I can’t praise Rangers enough for delivering another big performance to reach the last four of the Europa League.

“It’s an incredible achievement given where the club had been 10 years ago. But making the semifinal of a European competition does not lessen the pressure on Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his players going into today’s Scottish Cup showdown with Celtic.

“Rangers’ name was last etched on the trophy in 2009. For a club of this standing and tradition, that is far too long. And, while they remain alive in three competitions, this is their best chance of silverware.

“There’s no doubt Celtic would have loved to have been contesting a quarter-final on Thursday night.

“But as they woke up this morning, Ange Postecoglou and his players will have been glad that as Rangers were knocking their pan in against Braga, they were resting.

“Rangers could have done without extra-time at Ibrox, but the physical fatigue will be offset by the emotional high of getting through.

“Giovanni faces a juggling act to balance an upcoming semi against RB Leipzig with the team’s domestic commitments? but at Rangers the demand never goes away.

“Once that ball rolls today the fans will want more. The team must try and get the club into a cup final.”

Ange Postecoglou’s men have two wins against Rangers in 2022 with the last coming two weeks ago at Ibrox.

Aaron Ramsey had given Rangers the lead before goals from Tom Rogic and Cameron Carter-Vickers sealed the win for Celtic and put them in complete control of the title race.

And McInnes was hugely impressed by how Celtic responded to going behind and believes that it was even more impressive than the win at Celtic Park in February.

He said: “It goes without saying that Celtic will be better prepared physically, and mentally they will have taken such a boost from their performance at Ibrox a fortnight ago.

“I was so impressed with the way Postecoglou’s players handled that game. As a manager, you always look to see how your team reacts to conceding a goal.

“Rangers scored in the third minute and threatened to swamp Celtic in those early stages. Tom Rogic’s equalizer came quickly, but the gap between the goals felt longer as Rangers kept pushing and beating Celtic’s press early in the game.

“It was blood and thunder, the Ibrox crowd was right up for it. There were very few Celtic fans in the ground, so it was Rangers at full throttle on and off the pitch.

“It was bedlam in the stands. It was intimidating, as you would expect. Ninety nine times out of 100, the rivalry will remain as just that but the bottle-throwing was something everyone could do without.

“Yet, there was a calmness, a resilience about Celtic that allowed them to go on and win the game.

“There’s no doubt they were under serious pressure and Rangers will be kicking themselves that they allowed Celtic the release valve of that equaliser.

“Rangers had Celtic where they wanted them but let a winning position slip away. Celtic regained composure and dealt with the rest of the game.

“At the start of that season, I’m not sure they would have managed that. But they have developed a coping mechanism for the biggest battle of all.

“Much has been spoken about Celtic’s effectiveness in possession and the overloads in midfield and attack that can lead to goals.

“But, for me, the way they won at Ibrox was through something else – robust defending, composure in the heat of battle and resilience.

“It wasn’t the free-flowing football that saw them win 3-0 at home in February, but it was a no-less impressive way to win.

Contrast that to Rangers’ response to going behind at Parkhead. Celtic won that night by asking questions of their rivals’ resolve and defensive organisation. Rangers rallied in the second half but the game was already gone.

“No Old Firm game will be one-sided for 90 minutes. That’s why today’s semi-final will be fascinating.”

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