Celtic star Erik Sviatchenko dismisses suggestion Rangers are ready to challenge Hoops next season

The Scottish Championship side came out on top when the pair met in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

Erik Sviatchenko has dismissed the suggestion that Rangers are ready to challenge Celtic for the Scottish Premiership title despite the Gers coming out on top in the Scottish Cup semi-final, The Scottish Sun reports.

Mark Warburton's men twice took the lead at Hampden Park but ultimately needed penalties to get past the Hoops to book their place in the final next month.

But despite the defeat, the defender - who bagged the Bhoys' first equaliser with an excellent header at the start of the second-half - has claimed that the Light Blues are not ready to mount a challenge, and the defeat was as much down to Ronny Deila's men not being at their best as it was to Rangers' performance.

"No, I don't think they are," he told The Scottish Sun when asked whether their Old Firm rivals were ready to mount a challenge.

"At some stages they played well, at some stages we played well. So it's difficult to say. We don't know what level they are.

"Credit to them, but we need to focus on our own game and we are Celtic. Was it down to us not playing to our potential? I would say so, of course, sometimes you don’t perform well."

Unfortunately for the Hoops, they have proved on three occasions since Deila took over that one-off games do not appear to play to their strengths. 

While they are sitting comfortably at the top of the league, they have now lost three semi-finals in the last two seasons.

However, Rangers' victory does not necessarily mean that they will be able to keep pace with Celtic for the entire campaign once they return to the top flight next season, but it does send a strong message that they are definitely heading down the right path.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch