PREMIER LEAGUE CUP FINAL.
Sunday 19th December 2021. K.O. 3pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow.
HIBERNIAN 1-2 CELTIC
Scorers: Celtic. Kyogo (52, 72)
Hibernian: Hanlon (51)
On a very cold Glasgow December day it was definitely a game of two halves as far as Celtic is concerned. Totally dominant in the first half but lacking in the final third but more of an even game in the second half due to Hibs deciding to come out and attack.
It worked more in the favour of Celtic as Hibs left space at the back for The Bhoys to manipulate. Two brilliant Kyogo goals were enough to see the cup going back to Celtic Park trophy room after a one year absence. There were great performances by Hart, Juranovic and McGregor but the team's linchpin was big Tom Rogic again. Continuing his stellar performance dictating play from midfield and only bettered by the Wee man himself, Kyogo Furuhashi.
Celtic took to the field resplendent in their all green kit as Hibs also agreed on a white away strip for the occasion and Hampden was truly green and white. There were a few changes made by Postecoglou from the team that started against Ross County on Wednesday evening. Back came Juranović, Taylor, Rogic, Johnston and the biggest boost was a fit Kyogo. Ralston, Scales, Bitton and Montgomery all dropped to the bench.
Celtic’s first chance came when Taylor on the left fed the ball through to Turnbull on the edge of the box. The midfielder saw his shot deflected and loop over the keeper but it went wide. A few minutes later it was Johnston with quick feet who made space in the box but his shot ballooned over. Next was a long range strike on 14 minutes by Greg Taylor but the Hibs keeper got down to save. It rebounded out to Abada who steered it goal wards but it was cleared off the line by Paul Hanlon. Abada was called offside though.
On 24 minutes Starfelt saw his flashing header fly past the post as David Turnbull pulled up with what looked like hamstring trouble and was replaced by Nir Bitton. Martin Boyle picked the ball up in the middle of the park and made towards goal but was foiled by Carter-Vickers with a last ditch sliding tackle. Up the other end Kyogo was called offside as he broke through from a Rogic pass. He was onside.
Referee John Beaton flashed his first yellow on 35 minutes and it was Juranović who went in the book. It was a very harsh booking for a standard trip on Boyle as he let Stevenson go a few minutes earlier for a worse offence. A minute later and he evened the score with a yellow shown to Doyle-Hayes for a foul on Kyogo. Celtic were dominant and moving well but their decision making in the final third was poor. It finished 0-0 at Half time.
The first goal arrived in 51 minutes against the run of play. Martin Boyle floated in a cracking corner and was met by Paul Hanlon as he headed home past Hart. Carl Starfelt lost his man on the run and from here he would let it upset his game as he made further mistakes under pressure. Hibs fans celebrated wildly but it lasted for no more than a minute as Celtic equalized quickly.
From the centre circle kick off the ball was played to the left for Taylor and through the thickness of pyro smoke he lifted a pinpoint pass over the Hibs defence to fall for Kyogo. The Wee man from Japan made no mistake as he buried it beyond Macey in the Hibs goal. It seems the Hibs fans' celebration provided Celtic a perfect smokescreen to level the score.
The Celts had an opportunity to take the lead five minutes later after a nice passage of play. Rogic passed to Abada who slipped Kyogo in but his shot was smothered by Macey as he failed to connect properly. On the hour mark Rogic put one over the bar and then Starfelt headed wide again.
Hibs also had a big opportunity to go ahead but were denied by big Joe Hart and it was Starfelt, again, who failed to deal with Nisbet. The Hibs striker turned Starfelt inside out and then went for a second bite when he went past the Swedish defender with a slight faint of the shoulder. Joe Hart came off his line and made himself big to block Nisbet’s shot and it should have been a wake up call for Carl Starfelt.
On 72 minutes the breakthrough for Celtic came and it was Kyogo again with a wonder goal. Rogic took a quick free kick on the right and floated the ball over into Kyogo’s path. He let it bounce before he looped it over a stranded keeper, far from his goal line, for goal number two and the Hoops second of the game. The noise from the Celtic fans was deafening.
Ange Postecoglou had to make a few changes as legs tired out. Firstly Ralston replaced Taylor who had been impressive. Then a double substitution a few minutes later saw Moffat come on for Kyogo and Scales for Johnston, who had pulled up with injury. Celtic nearly pulled further ahead when a lung bursting run by Abada saw him play in Rogic inside the box. Big Oz struck the shot but the Hibs goalie got down well to palm it wide.
It was becoming a nervous game in the closing minutes when both teams had brilliant opportunities to score. Hibs Paul Hanlon, who had been immense all afternoon, saw his shot hit the post and there were calls for a penalty. For me it wasn’t a penalty as the Hibs player went down when he felt Starfelts hand on his back. It wasn’t a push but others will say differently.
90+2 Abada hit the Hibs post but was called offside but again it was the wrong call but very close. Hart again came to the rescue in 90+6 when he made a massive save and Bitton blocked the follow up. It was so good to hear the final whistle and see The Hoops return the League Cup back to Paradise.
It wasn’t a classic game by all accounts but it was highly entertaining and could have gone either way in the second half. Overall it was the Celts who had far superior possession and passed Hibs off the pitch and it was the teams perfect Christmas gift for the fans. Postecoglou will be delighted with his first piece of silverware with his team and hopefully the sign of things to come. With a lengthy injury list and fixtures coming thick and fast the supporters are praying for a good January window and the signs are promising with another couple of Japanese players reportedly on the way.
MOTM: Kyogo Furuhashi. Without a doubt and miles ahead of everyone else. He inspired Celtic to this win and his goals were top level. Seems to have the awareness that was prevalent in Mr Larsson’s game.
Juranovic and Kyogo salute the Celtic fans with the League Cup Trophy.
Captain Fantastic Callum McGregor screams in delight.
The Bhoys done well.
Wee Bertie‘s life-size cut out was there with his family by his side. He would be having a wee dram after today.
HIBERNIAN: Macey, McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Stevenson, Newell, Doyle-Hayes, Boyle, Campbell, Murphy, Nisbet. SUBS: Doig, Wright, Doidge, Grogic, Dubrowski, Allan, McGregor, Scott, Cadden (4-2-3-1)
CELTIC: Hart, Juranović, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, Abada, Rogic, Turnbull, Johnston, Kyogo. SUBS: Scales, Bitton, McCarthy, Bain, Shaw, Montgomery, Ralston, Welsh, Moffat. (4-1-4-1)
POSSESSION: Hibs 34% Celtic 66%
SHOTS: Hibs 7 - 17 Celtic
SHOTS ON TARGET: Hibs 3 - 4 Celtic
PASSES: Hibs 233 - 473 Celtic
COMPLETION: Hibs 59% Celtic 80%