CELTIC 2 RANGERS 1
CALLUM McGREGOR made it a perfect 10 out of 10 as a double salvo from Kyogo Furuhashi fired Celtic to success in a nerve-racking Viaplay League Cup Final at Hampden this afternoon.
The Hoops skipper was playing in his tenth silverware showdown – and he has won the LOT!
It’s an extraordinary achievement for the 29-year-old midfield mastermind and it was a well-merited, well-fought victory for the holders.
Coincidentally, it was Kyogo with a duo when Ange Postecoglou’s men lifted the same trophy last season when they overcame Hibs 2-1.
THE SIGNS ARE GOOD…Kyogo Furuhashi and Greg Taylor celebrate the opening strike.
In the 13th minute, there was a moment of danger for the holders when Malik Tillman was allowed to cross from the left when the ball looked over the byline.
Referee Nick Walsh and his assistant let play continue, but John Lundstram’s shot was blocked and the rebound was hammered well off target.
The Hoops were composed in the early stages, but two promising moves broke down at Daizen Maeda on the left when the Japanese raider was unusually slack to get in a delivery.
In 19 minutes, Aaron Mooy picked out Filipe Jota, but, from a good position, the Portuguese ace sent an effort straight into the grateful gloves of Allan McGregor.
Two minutes later, Kyogo had a good touch as the ball dropped out of the air, but the keeper was out swiftly to block the effort and the chance was gone.
THE BREAKTHROUGH GOAL…Kyogo Furuhashi left foots a close-range effort past the helpless Allan McGregor for the opener.
Only moments later, the veteran Ibrox netminder defied the Hoops again when he got down in a flash to push away a low drive from Jota on the edge of the box.
The ball was arrowing in at the bottom right-hand post before McGregor threw himself full-length to get a crucial touch.
Just after the half-hour mark, Cameron Carter-Vickers’ timing was impeccable as he got in front of Tillman to intercept a dangerous low cross from James Tavernier.
Back came the Parkhead side and Jota skipped past a couple of tackles before picking out Kyogo 16 yards out and the striker turned to launch a drive that swept just too high.
Three minutes from the interval, there was a splendid sequence of passing on the right that ended when Alistair Johnston delivered an inviting cross. Kyogo got in a free header from eight yards, but his effort went over with McGregor stranded.
CUP THAT CHEERS…Kyogo Furuhashi runs away in triumph with Allan McGregor and Ben Davies left stunned.
The breakthrough arrived just a minute from the turnaround when the Hoops carved open their opponents with another quick, penetrating raid after Hatate had played the ball inside to the bright and inventive Mooy.
The Aussie wasted no time in pushing a pass in front of Greg Taylor running free on the left. The defender whipped in a perfect near-post ball.
Meada had a swipe and missed, but the pass found Kyogo smack in front of goal four yards out and the lightning-swift attacker knocked the ball into the gaping net.
The Celtic end erupted in delight as the little frontman took a bow before before being engulfed by his team-mates.
The holders had been knocking on the door and they picked the opportune time to claim the barrier-breaking strike.
Five minutes after the break, the Hoops lost possession deep in enemy territory and play was switched quickly to Ryan Kent on the left. He was given time to bring the ball inside before whipping an angled drive wide of the stretching Joe Hart.
The effort cannoned off the bottom of the left-hand upright and bounced to Fashion Sakala who thumped the ball into the side net.
DOUBLE TROUBLE…Kyogo Furuhashi and Aaron Mooy celebrate the opening goal.
Kyogo showed him how it was done when he snapped up a second goal for Celtic six minutes later.
Some intricate passing saw McGregor knock the ball to Mooy who picked out a great run from Hatate.
He waited for the precise moment to zip in a low ball and it was his countryman Kyogo who got in front of Borna Barisic to turn the ball home from close range.
However, a lot of the good work was undone at a stroke in the 64th minute when some incredibly lackadaisical defending at a left-wing free-kick from Tavernier was allowed to reach Morelos at the far post.
As Mooy and Carter-Vickers dithered, the Colombian squeezed in an effort that Hart got a hand to, but couldn’t prevent it from sneaking in at the post.
Ange Postecoglou immediately sent on Liel Abada and Matt O’Riley for Jota and Mooy.
GLASGOW BELONGS TO ME…Kyogo Furuhashi accepts the acclaim of the Celtic fans at Hampden.
The manager would have frowned as he watched his players get sloppy as their opponents went at the contest with a verve and gusto.
In the 76th minute, Postecoglou introduced Tomoki Iwata and Oh Hyeon-gyu for Hatate and Kyogo as he attempted to freshen things up.
Before the South Korean had a kick of the ball he received a yellow card for a challenge on Ben Davies. He joined team-mate McGregor and Ibrox duo Lundstram and Glen Kamara in the book.
In the 83rd minute, Abada was also booked by ref Walsh who adjudged he had taken a dive as he raced onto a through ball with Davies chasing him.
Sead Haksabanovic joined the action in the 84th minute as a replacement for Maeda who had been non-stop since the kick-off.
Five minutes later, the Swedish winger was foiled when McGregor stuck out a left foot to block a low netbound effort after the sub had been picked out by Johnston.
THAT WINNING FEELING…Kyogo Furuhashi is on the ground after turning in Reo Hatate’s pass for the second and League Cup-clinching strike.
As the game neared the conclusion, Kent and Barisic were booked in frantic attempts to force an equaliser.
Johnston was next in the book for possibly speaking out of turn.
In the fading moments, O’Riley missed a sitter smack in front of goal and completely unmarked. He should have burst the net, but instead attempted to slide the ball in the corner and McGregor got down to push it away.
Haksabanovic then rolled one past the far post when he, too, should have scored.
In the end, it didn’t matter with Celtic lifting the first trophy of the season.
The treble is on!
TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Mooy (sub: O’Riley 65), McGregor, Hatate (sub: Iwata 76); Jota (sub: Abada 65), Kyogo (sub: Oh 76), Maeda (sub: Haksabanovic 84).