The Light Blues passed up a series of chances with Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster making key saves to keep the game scoreless at the interval.
Rangers were punished for those missed opportunities when Celtic defender Christopher Jullien knocked in a Ryan Christie free-kick in the 59th minute.
Forster then saved a penalty from Alfredo Morelos, after Hoops right-back Jeremie Frimpong had been sent off by referee Willie Collum for fouling the striker inside the box.
Neil Lennon’s 10 men held out for their 10th consecutive trophy win and his first success in the tournament as a manager, as Celtic delivered a psychological blow to Rangers, who have gone eight years without a major piece of silverware.
Steven Gerrard has been reflecting on the defeat:
It’s still very raw but I can’t really ask any more from my players in terms of the performance. I thought we were really good, we performed well. But we got one big moment wrong. We never defended a set-piece. Now, there’s a good possibility two or three of them are offside but we’ve still got to defend it better.
Fraser was awesome today, and he needed to be, because first half we were so flat. We’ve been playing brilliantly, scoring a lot of goals, but we just looked really off it first half. You have to give Rangers credit for that. But we galvanised ourselves, showed a lot of mental strength, scored a great goal and had a chance to make it two. It doesn’t stop here. We’ve got a lot of games between now and the end of the month to forge ahead in the league, but that’s a first trophy in the cabinet.
Neil Lennon admits he was disappointed with aspects of his side’s performance, but that won’t stop the smile stretching across his face:
I’m delighted. Disappointed with the way we played at times, because that’s not the standard we set ourselves. We had to ride our luck, there’s no question of that. I shook the Rangers players’ hands because they made the final a good spectacle. But we’ve come through it again. We’re absolutely an amazing team. That’s 10 major trophies in a row. It’s a brilliant day. To go down to 10 men, and the resilience we showed … I thought we were better with 10 men than we were with 11.
Scott Brown lifts the trophy. It’s their tenth in a row and the pursuit of the quadruple-treble continues. Rangers pushed Celtic all the way this time, though, and surely it won’t be long before Gerrard tastes silverware for the first time as a manager.
Celtic only had one shot on target today, but that’s what settled it.
Jullien will take the plaudits, but it’s Forster who single-handedly kept his side alive for so long in this game.
Just went my way today,” he says. “I’ll take that. Just buzzing for the lads, buzzing for everyone at the club, buzzing for the fans. It just shows how clinical we are. It’s something special. We played some terrible football, but we’ve won the game and as long as you win a final, that’s all that matters.
To score the winner, to win the trophy is just unbelievable, it’s for the staff, thank you for everything.
It was really difficult, when we went down to 10-men. Fraser [Forster] did an unbelievable job, he’s the best goalkeeper I’ve ever played with, I’m so happy for him.
Celtic’s goalscorer Christopher Jullien:
It’s unbelievable! I was really not happy about our first half but the second half showed the strength we’ve had since the beginning of the year. I’m just so happy.
Celtic’s players tear across the pitch at Hampden Park. They had to cling on for so long and been outplayed, but they’ve done it! They’re unbeaten in 31 cup games and that’s their 10th domestic trophy in a row.
FT: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
Ten-man Celtic are Scottish League Cup winners!
90+5 mins: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
Forster is down nursing an injury. It’s hardly surprising considering the number of saves he’s been forced to make. Rangers have had 16 shots in total. Is there time for one more?
90+2 mins: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
What a chance! Surely Rangers won’t have a better chance than that. It’s Morelos again who receives the ball from Arfield in the box, spins quickly to shoot but can only fizz the ball wide of the far post.
90+1 mins: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
Kent works space nicely on the edge of the box, plays the ball out wide to Barisic who’s got plenty of time to pick the cross, but instead woefully overhits it and Celtic will take their time with the throw-in.
90 mins: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
There’ll be six minutes of stoppage time!
88 mins: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
Penalty appeal! Morelos goes down theatrically under the challenge of Johnston. There did appear to be the slightest of pushes, but the striker’s swan dive does little to persuade the referee.
86 mins: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
Defoe darts in at the near post ahead of Jullien, but the defender recovers well and just about blocks the striker’s flick. It’s another corner to Rangers. Nothing comes of it, again.
84 mins: Rangers 0-1 Celtic
Rangers are getting slightly panicky now. Gerrard is sodden and tetchy on the touchline and grimaces as Arfield blasts a hopeful shot far over the bar from a long way out.
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What time is kick-off?
The match starts at 3pm at Hampden Park on Sunday 8 December.
How can I watch it?
The final will be broadcast live on BT Sport 1, with coverage beginning at 1pm.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Helander, Goldson, Barisic, Jack, Kamara, Arfield, Aribo, Kent, Morelos
Celtic: Forster, Frimpong, Ajer, Jullien, Hayes, Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Christie, Elyounoussi, Morgan
Rangers are waiting anxiously on the fitness of Jordan Jones and Borna Barisic.
Celtic are significantly hampered by injuries though with Jozo Simunovic, Scott Bain, Jonathan Hayes and Daniel Arzani all ruled out. Mohamed Elyounoussi, Jack Hendry, Hatem Elhamid and Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo are also doubts due to niggling injuries.