DELIGHTED Celtic boss Martin O’Neill praised his £12miilion strike duo Chris Sutton and John Hartson after the 2-1 Scottish Cup third round win over Rangers on January 9 2005.
The Englishman and the Welshman combined to get the job done against Alex McLeish’s stubborn side at a heaving, joyous Parkhead with 58,622 making themselves heard.
The jubilant Hoops gaffer said: “I’m very pleased to get through. With such a slender lead you’re never quite there until it’s over.
“Chris Sutton and John Hartson were a handful all afternoon, although I had my heart in my mouth towards the end when Rangers had chances to equalise.
“They’re very dangerous at set-pieces, but, all in all, I thought we were worthy winners.”
THE OLD ONE-TWO…Chris Sutton and John Hartson prepare to celebrate the opening goal.
Hartson, bought by O’Neill for £6million from Coventry City in the summer of 2001, celebrated his new deal with the club by netting the winner with only 13 minutes remaining.
Sutton, a £6million arrival from Chelsea the previous year, put the home side ahead when he latched onto the ball eight yards from goal to slot past keeper Stefan Klos into the net.
Fernando Ricksen drew the Ibrox outfit level with a well-placed header past Rab Douglas just after half time.
NUMBER ONE…Chris Sutton yells in delight after steering the ball wide of Stefan Klos.
NUMBER TWO…John Hartson pounces with the winning strike.
Celtic enjoyed more pressure and possession as the first-half wore on and almost took the lead after 28 minutes when an Aiden McGeady cross was sloppily headed back across his own goal by a panicking Alex Rae.
Klos got a hand to the ball, which fell to Hartson in a packed six-yard box, but his half-hit effort was stopped on his line by the relieved netminder.
The Hoops took the lead just under 10 minutes before the break. A long clearance by Douglas was not dealt with by Zura Khizanishvili, who allowed the ball to skim off his shoulder in an aerial challenge with Hartson. The ricochet fell to Sutton who knocked it home.
O’Neill’s men were rocked, though, shortly after the turnaround when the ball was worked out to Alan Hutton on the right and his cross picked out Ricksen who directed his header beyond the despairing dive of Douglas.
S-T-R-E-T-C-H…Chris Sutton slides in front of Rangers defender Marvin Andrews.
Celtic responded immediately with Stilyan Petrov bringing out a good save from Klos with a stinging drive and then Khizanishvili acrobatically cleared the ball off the line after Klos had almost punched McGeady’s cross towards his own net.
Next up, Ricksen was ideally placed to block Sutton’s header on the line as the visitors came under real pressure.
At the other end, Douglas was quickly off his line to thwart Nacho Novo, before Sutton again threatened with a glancing header just wide.
Celtic grabbed the winner in 77th minute when Didier Agathe swung in a cross, Sutton missed an attempted flick, but the ball fell to Hartson at the back post and his shot was deflected past Klos by Marvin Andrews.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Rangers v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.