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    By: Mark Henderson on 27 May, 2017 17:22

  • Scottish Cup final
    Hampden Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, May 27, 2017

    (Armstrong 11, Rogic (90+2)

    (Hayes 9)

    TOM Rogic’s scored a sensational last-gasp winner to secure the Scottish Cup for Celtic and the fourth treble of club’s illustrious history after an epic final against Aberdeen at Hampden.

    The Dons took an early lead through Jonny Hayes but Stuart Armstrong cancelled that out almost immediately with an unstoppable shot.

    As the game wore on, the six-in-a-row champions piled on the pressure and it finally paid off deep into stoppage time as Rogic weaved his way into the box and beat Joe Lewis at his near post.

    It was an incredible finish to a simply stunning season for Brendan Rodgers’ side, who not only claimed their first clean sweep in 16 years but also went the entire domestic season undefeated, an unparalleled achievement in Scottish football history.  

    The manager made one change to the Celtic team that beat Hearts in the league last weekend to become Invincibles, with Mikael Lustig coming in for Cristian Gamboa at right-back.

    Leigh Griffiths continued to lead the line for the Bhoys, with Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair providing close support from the flanks.

    Top scorer Moussa Dembele, who had missed over a month of action since picking up a hamstring injury in the semi-final victory over Rangers, made a welcome return to fitness and started on the bench.

    The warm weather and sunshine had been replaced by torrential rain by kick-off but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Hoops faithful who were in great voice ahead of kick-off.

    After a minute’s silence for all those affected by the atrocity in Manchester earlier this week, the match started at a furious pace as both teams sought to take the initiative.

    A lovely piece of skill from Sinclair on the left earned the Hoops a corner. Griffiths’ delivery was only headed as clear as far as Callum McGregor who sent a measured volley wide.

    Moments, later, however, the Dons broke the deadlock when Niall McGinn’s corner was met by Hayes on the volley, which found the net despite the best attempts of Kieran Tierney.

    The champions only took two minutes to respond to this early setback. McGregor showed terrific tenacity to work the ball to Armstrong and he took before lashing into the far corner from 20 yards for his 17th goal of the season.

    As the match swung from end-to-end, Graeme Shinnie flashed a shot into the side-netting, before the match was held up for five minutes after a controversial incident on the touchline.

    Tierney took a forearm to the face from Jayden Stockley, which went unpunished by referee Bobby Madden, and the talented teenager had to leave the fray after receiving treatment. He was replaced by Rogic, with McGregor taking up the left-back position.

    As the Bhoys adjusted to this premature tactical switch, Craig Gordon was called into action twice in quick succession to deny McGinn and Shinnie from distance.

    Celtic’s No.1 then had to save a header from Stockley following McGinn’s corner, before Kenny McLean shot wide as the Pittodrie side enjoyed a spell of pressure.

    Eventually, the Hoops started to rediscover their rhythm and they mustered a response when Armstrong sent a first-time shot wide after Griffiths’ corner had been headed clear. Shinnie’s foul on Armstrong then presented Griffiths with a chance to try his luck from 25 yards and the striker wasn’t far away with his dipping drive.

    On the stroke of half-time, Brendan Rodgers’ side almost went ahead. Griffiths’ inviting delivery was met first-time by the onrushing Sinclair in the six-yard box but he couldn’t keep the ball down, leaving the game evenly poised at the interval.

    And it was Celtic who came closest as the second-half got underway. Sinclair showed nimble footwork and then sent Griffiths scampering clear and the hit-man’s deflected shot curled inches wide of the far post.

    At the other end, Aberdeen spurned a golden chance when Hayes robbed McGregor of possession but he was unable to pick out the unmarked McLean in the middle.

    Back came the Bhoys – Sinclair’s angled effort was blocked by Joe Lewis, Griffiths’ had a free-kick deflected wide and Roberts was off target after weaving his way through the Aberdeen defence.  

    The champions were growing in ascendency and the impressive Armstrong had a shot parried by Lewis after cutting in from the left.

    Roberts was becoming more prominent in proceedings and, after he had jinked away from several challenges, he struck the outside of the post with an exquisite shot. Lewis then flapped at Griffiths’ corner but Lustig was unable to apply the finish.

    In the 67th minute, the Celtic supporters staged their traditional tribute to the Lisbon Lions and it almost had an inspired effect as Griffiths fired over after a fluent passing move.  

    Another jinking run from Roberts forced Ash Taylor to head over his own bar, and from the resultant corner, Boyata headed over when unmarked.

    Aberdeen briefly broke the onslaught with a long-range strike from Shinnie which Gordon pushed wide. The one-way traffic swiftly resumed, however, and Lewis made a brilliant stop to thwart Griffiths after he had been teed-up by Armstrong.

    The increasingly busy Dons shot-stopper saved his side yet again after Sinclair had been picked out by Griffiths’ delicate pass.

    As the clock ticked down, the Pittodrie side were being forced into some desperate last-ditch defending to keep the Bhoys at bay as Roberts and Rogic had shots charged down.

    Griffiths, McGregor and Sinclair all had further efforts – but then two minutes into the three minutes of added time, Celtic finally broke Aberdeen’s brave resistance thanks to some individual magic from Rogic.

    The Australian internationalist danced his way into the box and then squeezed a shot in under Lewis, sparking utter bedlam in the Celtic End at Hampden and frenzied celebrations on the pitch.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney (Rogic 26); Brown; McGregor, Armstrong; Roberts, (Sviatcheno 90 +3), Griffiths, Sinclair
    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Dembele, Gamboa, Forrest

    ABERDEEN (4-3-3) Lewis; Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Considine; Shinnie, Jack, McLean; McGinn (O’Connor 75), Stockley (Rooney 62), Hayes
    Not Used: Alexander, Pawlett, Wright, Ross, Storey

    Website Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong


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