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  • Forrest fires Celtic to League Cup final victory at Hampden

    Forrest fires Celtic to League Cup final victory at Hampden

    By: Paul Cuddihy on 26 Nov, 2017 16:55

  • Betfred Cup Final
    Sunday, November 26, 2017

    CELTIC... 2
    (Forrest 49, Dembele 59pen)


    BRENDAN Rodgers made more Celtic history at Hampden today when he became the first Celtic manager to win his first four consecutive domestic trophies.

    Having secured the treble last season, the Irishman’s Invincibles kept hold of the League Cup with a 2-0 victory over Motherwell courtesy of goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele. In the process, the Hoops also extended the unbeaten run to an incredible 65 games.

    It was Motherwell who got the final underway but, not surprisingly, it was Celtic who immediately took the game to their opponents, forcing the first corner of the game after six minutes, though Motherwell dealt comfortably with the set-piece delivery from Callum McGregor.

    It was a half of few chances, and only a couple of real contentious moments. A crude challenge by Cedric Kipre on Moussa Dembele on the edge of the Motherwell area went unpunished, though three minutes later, the Celtic striker was yellow-carded for a similar challenge.

    Celtic were using the width of the Hampden pitch, trying to stretch a Motherwell side who put every outfield player behind the ball whenever they lost possession, with Forest always looking a threat down the right flank.

    But apart from a Dembele header on the half-hour mark, Celtic didn’t really trouble Trevor Carson in the Motherwell goal. Craig Gordon was similarly untroubled, with a 30-yard free-kick from captain, Carl McHugh, Motherwell’s only real chance in a first-half most notable for the applause tribute to former Celtic and Motherwell midfielder, Phil O’Donnell in the 10th minute.

    The first goal at Hampden was always going to be crucial and that breakthrough came for the cup holders just four minutes into the second-half. Callum McGregor collected a pass on the edge of the Motherwell area and slid the ball to James Forrest who cut on to his left-foot and curled a precise shot beyond Carson’s despairing dive.

    The game immediately began to open up and Motherwell almost equalised four minutes later, but Louis Moult’s header from six yards out was stopped by a world-class save from Craig Gordon.

    McHugh became the first Motherwell player booked before Moussa Dembele was inches wide with a header from a McGregor corner.

    The task for Motherwell, already difficult, became near enough insurmountable just before the hour mark when Celtic won a penalty, with Cedric Kipre red-carded for the challenge on Scott Sinclair.

    Dembele, whose pass had found Sinclair inside the area, coolly stepped up and converted the spot-kick to make it 2-0, for his second penalty in consecutive League Cup finals.

    With a two-goal lead and a numerical advantage, Celtic swept forward at every opportunity and Stuart Armstrong was twice denied in quick succession by Carson in the Motherwell goal, who dealt well with both shots from just outside the area.

    McGregor, always effective in the Celtic midfield, was next to try his luck, but his shot from 19 yards out was wide of the target.

    Forrest, outstanding throughout the match, produced a dazzling piece of dribbling in the middle of the park before he was upended by Allan Campbell on the edge of the box, the Motherwell substitute earning a yellow card. And from the subsequent free-kick, Leigh Griffiths, on as a substitute for Dembele, fired a powerful low shot which Carson pushed away.

    Griffiths should have scored with 10 minutes remaining after McGregor slid a pass through the middle for the striker to latch on to, but his shot crashed off the post before Motherwell cleared the danger. And the Celtic No.9 came close with a header on 87 minutes.

    Armstrong and Roberts then combined well inside the area, with the former firing a shot across the six-yard box which took a deflection off a Motherwell defender before being saved by Carson. And Roberts, who was causing constant problems down the right since his introduction, shot inches over from just inside the area.

    The last chance of the game for Celtic came from the left foot of Tom Rogic, also on as a late substitute, whose shot from the edge of the area was saved by Carson before Motherwell hit the post from a Moult free-kick right on the final whistle.

    The League Cup final victory over Motherwell at Hampden is Celtic’s 17th triumph in the competition, and the first time they’ve retained the trophy in 16 years. The Celtic supporters, who filled two-thirds of Hampden, celebrated another trophy success under Brendan Rodgers in the knowledge that the double-treble remains on the cards for the Hoops.

    CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown: McGregor (Rogic 88), Armstrong, Forrest (Roberts 77), Dembele (Griffiths 63), Sinclair.
    Subs: De Vries, Rogic, Ntcham, Sviatchenko, Ajer.

    MOTHERWELL: Carson, Tait, Grimshaw (Tanner 50), Hartley, Cadden, McHugh, Moult, Bowman (Campbell 63), Rose (Frear 70), Dunne, Kipre.
    Subs: Griffiths, Hammell, Fisher, Petravicius,

    Man of the Match: James Forrest


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