ANGE POSTECOGLOU is planning an action replay at Hampden next month.
The Celtic manager piloted his players through choppy waters during a torrential downpour to overcome stubborn Kilmarnock 2-0 and book a return to the national stadium for the Viaplay Cup Final on Sunday February 26.
And Postecoglou will be hoping to again get his hands on the first trophy he won as Neil Lennon’s long-term successor when two goals from Kyogo Furahashi capped a spirited Hoops comeback to beat Hibs 2-1 in December 2021.
PRAISE BE…proud manager Ange Postecoglou acknowledges the efforts of his Celtic players in the 2-0 storm-lashed Hampden success.
The same venue presented a giant banana skin last night as the monsoon conditions churned up the pitch and severely hampered the champions in their attempts to play their usual intricate passing game.
It speaks volumes for Postecoglou and his team they did not compromise their eye-catching style as the rain poured from the heavens to make fast, attractive, ball-on-the-ground movements practically impossible.
With combative opponents to overwhelm, the Hoops were up for the challenge and a ricochet off Daizen Maeda’s chest handed them the opener in the first-half and Giorgos Giakoumakis rolled in the second deep in stoppage time after keeper Sam Walker had pushed away a low drive from David Turnbull.
James Forrest, five-time winner in this competition, had come on with the Greek and the Scotland international as a second-half substitute and it was his clever lay off that opened the way for the original shot from Turnbull that brought joy to the holders – and grief to the Ayrshire outfit.
THE OPENER…Daizen Maeda accepts the cheers of the Celtic fans after his effort left Kilmarnock keeper Sam Walker and defender Ash Taylor helpless.
The Parkhead men have now beaten the Rugby Park club three times in this campaign with nine goals scored and none conceded.
The scoreline of 2-0 was the same one as the league win in Glasgow the previous week, but the two tussles against the same opponents were distinctly different.
Postecoglou said: “It was always going to be that way, it’s a Cup semi-final and credit to Kilmarnock, they threw everything at us, as you would expect in such a big game.
“The conditions made it tough for it to be too open and free-flowing, but fair credit to the lads, they found a way again.
“They had to battle, but that’s okay, we can battle with the best of them and I thought they did that on this occasion.
“In these kind of competitions you don’t expect the opposition to lay down at any point. We expected a tough game and that’s what we got.
THE CLINCHER…Giorgos Giakoumakis runs away in triumph to join David Turnbull after keeper Sam Walker had failed to deal with the midfielder’s low drive.
“But, as I said, they key to that is that we overcome that and the boys did that.”
The manager, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “We want to be a team that’s relentless in our pursuit of success.
“It’s demanded at this football club and again the boys delivered when it mattered.
“The conditions, the pitch, it wasn’t great for us to play our football, it made it really difficult, but, as I said, we spoke about that before the game, and if we need to battle this out, we’ll battle it out.
“What’s important that once the game’s done and dusted, were in the Final.”