THERE was pain among the gain when Greg Taylor picked up a League Cup winner’s medal as Celtic overcame a spirited Hibs team 2-1 in a dramatic finale at Hampden in December 2021.
The Hoops left-back had to be withdrawn 15 minutes from time as he struggled with an injury.
Taylor couldn’t continue and Ange Postecoglou threw on Anthony Ralston as a substitute and switched Josip Juranovic from his usual right-back berth to the left flank.
HAMPDEN HAPPY DAYS…Greg Taylor congratulates Kyogo Furuhashi after the opening goal.
The Parkhead men saw out the remaining minutes as the Greek-Australian got his hands on silverware as the club’s manager for the first time only six months after being named long-term successor to Neil Lennon.
Taylor added to his League Cup medal collection at the weekend when he starred in the 2-1 triumph over Michael Beale’s Ibrox side – and this time he celebrated on the pitch when the full-time whistle sounded.
The Scotland international defender said: “We’re fortunate that we’re at a club where you get the chance most years to compete.
“But it’s getting that over the line, we are in a very fortunate position. Everyone in that changing room realises that. Just winning a trophy for this club is the best feeling.
“Callum made a good point on the pitch – you don’t get tired of it because it’s the best feeling in the world.
“Winning trophies, it’s what the club demands. The support on Sunday, I thought they were outstanding. They deserved it.”
Taylor played his part in putting smiles on the faces of all associated with Celtic when he set up the opening goal for Kyogo Furuhashi as the minutes ticked down towards half-time.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Greg Taylor holds aloft the League Cup as team-mates Joe Hart, Carl Starfelt, Alistair Johnston and Cameron Carter-Vickers celebrate.
Aaron Mooy picked out his run with a neat pass into his stride and the full-back whipped a measured cross in at the near post. Daizen Maeda took a fresh-air swipe and missed, but Furuhashi remained switched-on and tucked a close-range effort wide of the stranded Allan McGregor.
Zambian international striker Fashion Sakala, of course, had been extremely vocal before the game talking up the merits of the Ibrox team while being fairly dismissive of the qualities of the champions.
However, Taylor, speaking to the Daily Record, insisted: “I don’t think we are about making points to other teams. Rangers are a good opponent. It was a difficult game.
“We just focus on ourselves and set our own benchmarks in terms of a level of performance. Hopefully, we can continue to do that as the rest of the season goes on.
“I felt we deserved to win it. In the first-half, we had good control of the match. We were the dominant team. When we got the second goal, after that we maybe got a wee bit slack in our play and Rangers obviously came back into the game.
“At 2-1 in a Cup Final, it’s inevitable that you feel as if you are holding on a little bit. But we did that and we could have scored a few more.
IT TAKES TWO…skipper Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor enjoy the moment.
“We stood up to the challenge in that spell. They play a lot of direct balls, they fight for everything and they have got strong and quick players at the top end. So, we knew it wouldn’t be easy.
“There are always going to be points in the game against a good opponent where they have spells, but we’re just glad that we played our football and came out of it with the trophy.”
The focus of attention is now on maintaining the one-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle when the champions take on St Mirren in Paisley on Sunday.
Then there is the double-header against Hearts in the league at Parkhead a week tonight and then the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Tynecastle three days later.
Taylor and his team-mates are up for the challenge and the former Kilmarnock star added: “Complacency is the one thing you can’t level at this group of players.
“We treat every game the same. We have always got the same belief that we can play our football. Equally, we have got the same respect for all our opponents.
“That won’t be any different come Sunday. We’ll enjoy this because winning trophies isn’t easy, so we deserve to enjoy this success. The momentum we have is massive.
“I think our form has been pretty consistent since the World Cup break. We are getting stronger as we go on. We’re learning the manager’s philosophy better and better.
“We’ve brought in players in January who are contributing massively. Hopefully, that can continue.”