RESOLUTE Ange Postecoglou rued the missed opportunity in the Scottish Cup, but has now refocused on making certain Celtic become “champions pf this country’.

An unfortunate own goal from Carl Starfelt ended the Hoops’ hopes of a remarkable silverware clean sweep as Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s outfit came back from a goal down to win 2-1 in extra-time at Hampden yesterday.

The confrontation was laced with controversy with referee Bobby Madden in the middle as usual following a series of inexplicable decisions – one of the main ones being his refusal to show a card to John Lundstram who looked on a one-man course to intimidate opponents.

WIPED OUT…Callum McGregor is sent flying following a challenge from John Lundstram.

The former Sheffield United midfielder was allowed to waywardly charge around the pitch without fear of a card or even a quiet word from the whistler.

However, the Parkhead manager refused to dwell on the club’s first domestic defeat in 33 games.

Instead, Postecoglou will utilise the Cup setback as motivation for the five-game run-in to the Premiership’s conclusion with the Hoops, six points ahead, and within touching distance of their 52nd flag.

The Greek-Australian gaffer said: “We are disappointed. It was, unfortunately, an opportunity we didn’t take.

“It was a typical semi-final, very tight. Both teams had their moments and they took theirs in extra-time and, unfortunately, it decided the game.

ON THE SLIDE…Tom Rogic hurdles a desperate tackle from John Lunstram.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges this season, this is another one. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We need to dust ourselves off and look forward to the next game.

“We’ve got five games to be champions of this country and that doesn’t change after today.

“Our focus has to be that we make sure we use this disappointment to fuel what is going to happen in the next few games.”

The Hoops led through Taylor’s second goal for the club when his low drive from the edge of the box took a slight deflection off Calvin Bassey’s boot on its way past Jon McLaughlin. Only moments later, Cameron Carter-Vickers, the matchwinner at Ibrox a fortnight earlier, saw a shot thump off the face of the crossbar as the opponents survived.

They made the most of it by snatching an equaliser through Scott Arfield and, in the extra half-hour, Starfelt, who had played well, was unucky as he deflected a Bassey left-wing cross beyond the helpless Joe Hart.

LONELY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou awaits the final whistle at Hampden.

Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “These kinds of games usually are tight. They are decided in moments where opportunities arise and it could have swung either way.

“When we had the ascendency and the chance to go two up, unfortunately, it didn’t go our way and they went up the other end and scored.

“Both teams went at it, but we just didn’t have enough to get it over the line.”

Celtic restart their bid for the crown in Dingwall at midday on Sunday against Malky MacKay’s Ross County.

The last encounter with the Highlanders at their trim Global Energy stadium saw the Hoops, reduced to 10 men after two dubious yellow cards for Starfelt, claim all three points in dramatic circumstances with a stoppage-time winner from Anthony Ralston in a 2-1 victory.


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