MODEST Joe Hart played down his role in helping Celtic to next month’s Viaplay League Cup Final at Hampden.

The 35-year-old 75 times-capped England international keeper made three top-class saves at crucial moments in the 2-0 win over battling Kilmarnock to book a return to the national stadium on Sunday February 26.

Derek McInnes’ side made a spirited start to the encounter in the monsoon conditions and Hart was called upon to make a superb diving save in only six minutes to turn away a wicked low 25-yarder from Rory McKenzie that was arrowing in at his right-hand post.

That was followed by another alert stop as the netminder dealt with an awkward bouncing header from Joe Wright.

WE’RE BEHIND YOU ALL THE WAY…Joe Hart with the backing of the Celtic support at Hampden last night.

The semi-final tie was on a knife edge with 15 minutes to go when Hart was involved again to push away a close-range effort from Christian Doidge.

Substitutes James Forrest, David Turnbull and Giorgos Giakoumakis combined deep in stoppage time when the Greek powerhouse snapped up a rebound from keeper Sam Walker to flash in the second and clinching strike.

Hart was the unsung hero as the players cavorted around a storm-lashed national stadium at the end of an exhausting 96 minutes in dreadful conditions.

The shotstopper handed the praise to his team-mates and smiled: “When I’m asked or called upon, I try my best to be there.”

Hart, who won his first Celtic medal in the 2-1 win over Hibs in the same competition – then branded the Premier Sports Cup – in December 2021, reflected on the victory over Kilmarnock and said: “It was a tough game – freezing, the pitch was horrendous, but we got it done and found a way.

“It was hard to get a good view of the goals, but they looked a little bit scrappy, but we got them over the line and made it happen.

VICTORY PARADE…Joe Hart leads his celebrating Celtic team-mates as they salute the magnificent fans at rain-lashed Hampden.

“I thought Kilmarnock were really good, they gave us a tough game.

“They had a lot of energy at the start, but we stuck to what we do and what we do best.

“We kept playing, we defended when we needed to and we scored the goals when we needed to.”

Hart, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “It’s enjoyable, the boys defend really well, they don’t ask me to do much.

“So, when I’m asked or called upon, I try my best to be there.

“You forget that there’s Final at the end of this, but you know how we work, it’s all about St Mirren now, we’ll deal with the Final when we get to it.”


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