CELTIC became History Bhoys on this day on May 19 2018 when they defeated Motherwell 2-0 in the Scottish Cup Final to complete a sensational double treble.
It was the first time ever the club had won six successive domestic honours and first-half goals from Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham got the job done on a sunshine afternoon of celebrations at Hampden.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, we turn the spotlight on a second clean sweep of domestic silverware for the Hoops as they once again triumphed in the league championship, the Scottish Cup and the League Cup.
Author Alex Gordon reviews Brendan Rodgers’ second memorable crusade in his fifteenth Celtic book, ‘50 Flags Plus One‘, the tribute tome to the club’s first FIFTY-ONE untainted championship triumphs.
AS the curtain came down on a gilt-edged 2017/18 campaign, Brendan Rodgers acknowledged he had been victorious where no manager had succeeded in the history of the Scottish game.
The Irishman had just seen Celtic coast to a reasonably comfortable 2-0 Scottish Cup Final triumph over Motherwell on May 19 2018 at a cloudless, radiant Hampden Park to collect his sixth domestic trophy in two years. Not even the legendary Jock Stein had managed such a spectacular feat.
The first trophy up for grabs had been the League Cup when Celtic took on Motherwell on a grey and overcast afternoon on November 26 2017 at the national stadium. In the opening 45 minutes of a tense confrontation, Celtic appeared to have applied the handbrake and had rarely troubled goalkeeper Trevor Carson.
Thankfully, James Forrest supplied the opening goal four minutes after the turnaround and Moussa Dembele added a second shortly afterwards from the penalty spot after Scott Sinclair had been downed by Cedric Kipre who was instantly red-carded.
A smiling Rodgers acclaimed his players afterwards and said: “It’s our fourth trophy in 12 months and it’s a phenomenal achievement. And it’s a huge credit to the players because of their hunger and desire to keep having that belief.”
Celtic contemptuously dismissed an inadequate Rangers team 4-0 in a lopsided semi-final in April. Tom Rogic got the opener, Callum McGregor added the second before the interval and then the French double-act of Moussa Dembele and Olivier Ntcham rolled in two stick-on penalty-kicks to bring the curtain down on two years of unbridled joy against the suffering, outclassed Govan club; eight wins and two draws in 10 games.
With five games to go, Celtic had the opportunity of wrapping up their seventh successive title against Hibs, managed by Neil Lennon, at Easter Road on April 21. They toppled to their third Premiership loss as they went down 2-1 in a game best forgotten.
However, the supporters didn’t feel too aggrieved about the reverse which allowed their favourites the opportunity claim the crown eight days later at Parkhead.
HEAD OVER HEELS…Olivier Ntcham performs an acrobatic celebration after his goal in the 2-0 Scottish Cup win over Motherwell on May 19 2018. Scott Brown looks a tad bemused.
The afternoon of April 29 2018 was built for smiles. Rangers were due to visit and Celtic were 90 minutes away from another crown. No West End impresario could have stage-managed it with such flawless timing. There was only going to be one winner that fateful day in the east end of the city.
Celtic triumphed 5-0 and the only surprise was that the players visibly eased off to a leisurely stroll with 37 minutes still to play. The Ibrox men realised they had escaped with a five-goal drubbing. Celtic’s 7-1 League Cup Final victory at Hampden Park in 1957 is the club’s biggest victory in the derby match and the gap could have been obliterated on this occasion.
Rodgers’ side raced to a five-goal advantage by the 53rd minute and it had been the third time the Irishman had seen his side score five goals against the Govan outfit. In truth, as the manager conceded afterwards, Celtic should have scored more than five. Odsonne Edouard skimmed across the perfect playing surface to stick two in the net with James Forrest, claiming his first-ever strike against the Ibrox side, Callum McGregor and, almost inevitably, Tom Rogic joining in.
PICK IT OUT…Callum McGregor races away in joy after putting Celtic ahead in the Scottish Cup Final with Motherwell keeper Trevor Carson left grounded.
Rodgers revelled in the team’s seventh successive title triumph – and the 49th in history – and smiled when he had been reminded it had been the first time in 39 years Celtic, then bossed by the legendary Billy McNeill, had clinched the flag against the Ibrox side.
The manager acknowledged: “Our basic rules today were very simple. It was to attack with real aggression and intensity, try and recover the ball as quickly as we could whenever we lost it. If we couldn’t do that, make sure we were tight and compact, look to dominate as much of the ball as we could and give it our best shot.
“And I don’t think I could have asked any more of the players. They were absolutely brilliant and I’m really proud.”
As the green and white ribbons were being attached to the Scottish Cup on a glimmering May 19 afternoon at Hampden, Celtic were going through the fading moments of the Final against Motherwell, two goals ahead following superb strikes from McGregor and Ntcham inside the first 25 minutes.
Rodgers allowed himself a brief moment of satisfaction.
“You could never imagine it could go as well as it has,” commented the manager. “From the first day I walked in to the club, it’s been amazing.”
The Celtic fans could sense treble treble ahead.