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  • Hoops triumph at Hampden to book League Cup final place

    Hoops triumph at Hampden to book League Cup final place

    By: Tony Connelly on 21 Oct, 2017 14:33

  • Betfred League Cup
    Semi-final
    Hampden Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, October 21, 2017

    CELTIC…4
    (Lustig 14, 41, Dembele 65, 87)

    HIBERNIAN…2
    (Stokes 60 pen, Shaw 70)

    CELTIC booked their place in the League Cup final thanks to two goals apiece from Mikael Lustig and Moussa Dembele as the cup holders defeated Hibernian 4-2 at Hampden. The win also now extends the Hoops’ unbeaten domestic run to 60 games.

    Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that faced Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League in midweek as Mikael Lustig returned at right-back in place of Cristian Gamboa and Nir Bitton slotted into the centre of defence alongside Dedryck Boyata. The other change saw Callum McGregor in the starting XI alongside Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong in the centre of midfield.

    And it took Celtic less than 15 minutes to open the scoring at the National Stadium. The Hibs defence failed to clear Stuart Armstrong’s lofted ball into the Hibs area and Mikael Lustig pounced to side-foot the ball beyond Ross Laidlaw.

    Celtic had quickly found their rhythm and began to control the play as they moved up a gear in search of a second goal. They had a chance from a free-kick on the edge of the box after Callum McGregor had been fouled, but Leigh Griffiths’ effort was cleared. Then Lustig tried a curling effort from the edge of the box which was high and wide.

    But the Swedish defender was not to be denied a second goal, which arrived three minutes before the break. An out-swinging corner from Griffiths found Lustig in space at the back post and he was able to guide the ball beyond Laidlaw with his right foot.

    It was a comfortable first half for Celtic, who dominated possession and controlled the play with wave after wave of attack. Hibs were unable to pose a threat, with Celtic’s pressure making it impossible for them to support Anthony Stokes up front.

    The second-half continued in the same vein, with Brendan Rodgers’ side dominating possession and controlling the game, and there looked to be no way back for the Edinburgh side until the 60th minute when they were awarded a controversial penalty.

    Dedryck Boyata’s precise and well-timed challenge on Martin Boyle was adjudged by referee Kevin Clancy and his assistant to have been a penalty, much to the astonishment of the Celtic players and just about everyone else in the stadium. Anthony Stokes duly converted the spot-kick.

    However, Celtic quickly restored their two-goal advantage when Moussa Dembele, on as a substitute, converted from close-range. At that point, it looked as though the Hoops were home and dry but Neil Lennon’s side continued battling and got their reward when one of their subs, Oliver Shaw, reduced the deficit with a good finish inside the area.

    The remaining 20 minutes were played at a frantic pace as both teams pushed for more goals, with Celtic showing great resolve and reserves of energy following their midweek exertions against Bayern Munich.

    Dembele was denied another goal by Hibs keeper, Laidlaw, after being put through on goal in the 83rd minute, but with three minutes remaining, he did finish superbly to make it 4-2 and ensure the League Cup holders will return to the National Stadium at the end of November, looking to retain their trophy against the winners of the Motherwell versus Rangers semi-final.

    CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, McGregor, Armstrong (Rogic 73); Roberts (Forrest 60), Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 60).
    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Gamboa, Ntcham,

    HIBERNIAN (4-4-1-1) Laidlaw; Gray (Whittaker 45), Hanlon, Stevenson, Ambrose; Bartley (Boyle 45), McGinn, Slivka (Shaw 69), Barker, McGeouch; Stokes.
    Not Used: Marciano, Swanson, S. Murray, Porteous

    Website Man of the Match: Mikael Lustig

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