CELTIC suffered a horrifying x-certificate sequence of results at Hampden during Ronny Deila’s reign that saw them lose THREE consecutive Cup semi-finals.

It’s difficult to comprehend these days as Brendan Rodgers prepares for a tenth successive triumph at the same venue against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final this afternoon.

The Hoops gaffer has won five silverware showdowns on the bounce after claiming three League Cups and two Scottish Cups in his previous stint at Parkhead.

It’s a far cry from the days of three in a woe when Celtic’s hopes of glory were buried under the rubble of red cards, missed penalty-kicks and bewildering refereeing decisions.

HAMPDEN HORROR…Virgill van Dijk is an image of despair after the Caley Thistle calamity.

The agonising run kicked off with an unfathomable 3-2 loss to Inverness Caley Thistle in the highly controversial last-four loss in the national competition on April 19 2015.

The Hoops were leading 1-0 through a sublime 15th-minute free-kick from Virgil van Dijk when, just before the interval, Leigh Griffiths had a netbound header punched off the line by Josh Meekings.

It was a clear handball from the Highland club’s defender and should have incurred an immediate red card and the award of a penalty-kick to Deila’s side.

Inexplicably, referee Steven McLean waved play on and goal-line assistant Alan Muir agreed with his onfield colleague that no action was required. Both had a clear and uninterrupted view of the incident.

Just over a year later – a bit too late for Celtic or Deila – McLean admitted he had made a mistake, as CQN reported at the time.

HANDBALL MYSTERY…images conclusively prove Leigh Griffiths’ netbound header was handled by Caley Thistle defender Josh Meekings, but neither referee Steven McLean nor his goal-line assistant Alan Muir (below) spotted the obvious infringement.

Caley Thistle, managed by former Celt John Hughes, celebrated their double let-off in the second-half. Ten minutes after the turnaround, the whistler proved he had remembered to pack his red card as he dismissed Craig Gordon after the keeper had been involved in a coming together with Marley Watkins.

There was not a moment’s hesitation on this occasion as the Scotland international was banished and a spot-kick awarded. Luksaz Zaluska took over in goal and his first task was to pick the ball out of the net after Greg Tansey had tucked his effort in the corner.

In extra-time, 10-man Celtic wilted when Edward Ofere fired in a second, but John Guidetti levelled with a long-range free-kick. Three minutes from the end, the misery was complete when David Raven netted the winner.

SEEING RED…Efe Ambrose is dismissed by referee Craig Thomson in Celtic’s perplexing loss to Ross County. Mikael Lustig and Craig Gordon are mystified.

Amazingly, another red card went a long way to sealing Celtic’s fate in their next visit to Hampden on January 31 2016 when they were due to play another Highland club, Ross County, in the League Cup semi-final.

Once again, they led following a strike from Gary Mackay-Steven in only 26 SECONDS, but match official Craig Thomson entered proceedings with devastating consequences for the Parkhead men in the 15th minute.

The match official adjudged Efe Ambrose’s challenge on Alex Schalk to be worthy of a spot-kick to the underdogs while flashing the dreaded red card at the astonished Nigerian international defender.

Martin Woods scored from the award, Paul Quinn headed in a second shortly after the interval and Schalk walloped No.3 high past Gordon to send the favourites tumbling out of the competition.

Joining in the mayhem, Leigh Griffiths had a late penalty-kick saved by Ryan Esson.

THE END IS IN SIGHT…concerned Celtic players look on during the disastrous penalty-kick shoot-out against the Ibrox side.

The excrutiating hat-trick was complete in a black chapter for Celtic on the afternoon of April 17 2016 when they lost 5-4 in the penalty-kick shoot-out after drawing 2-2 following extra-time to the Ibrox club, who were then a Championship side.

It was an embarrassing episode for the Hoops and the red flags were waving as early as the 16th minute when Kenny Miller scored. Erik Sviatchenko headed in an equaliser five minutes after the turnaround.

However, a speculative drive from Barrie McKay put the Govan side ahead again six minutes into extra-time.

Back came Celtic and Tom Rogic neatly sidefooted a close-range drive past Wes Foderingham for a 108th-minute equaliser.

HIT…Tom Rogic fires in Celtic’s second equaliser during extra-time against Mark Warburton’s Championship side.

MISS…Tom Rogic looks on in dismay as his crucial penalty-kick sails over the bar.

WOE…Tom Rogic is left in despair.

Unfortunately, the Australian ace was one of three Hoops players to miss in the spot-kick shoot-out alongside skipper Scott Brown and Callum McGregor.

The unacceptable failure ultimately brought Deila’s reign in the Parkhead dug-out to an abrupt end.

Brendan Rodgers was introduced to the Celtic fans 33 days later, an appointment that thankfully kick-started better times for the Parkhead men and the fans at Hampden.

But that’s an altogether different story for another day.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best in action images from Celtic v Aberdeen this afternoon – only in your champion CQN

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