By Macaroon 2nd December 2018
League Cup Final
Sunday 2nd December 2018
Hampden Park, Glasgow.
CELTIC defeated Aberdeen 1-0 in a well-contested League Cup final at Hampden. The win sees Brendan Rodgers’ side retain the trophy, and also marks the Double Treble holders’ seventh consecutive domestic honour.
A wonderful long ball from Dedryck Boyata found Ryan Christie in the box four minutes into first-half injury time, before the 23-year-old fired home with an emphatic rebound into the roof of the net. The Hoops created a number of other chances in front of goal and, despite the single-goal margin, were dominant in both defence and attack throughout.
Both teams started the game with the intensity fitting of the occasion, showcased by a flurry of hard tackles in the middle of the pitch. Aberdeen pressed the Scottish champions deep into their half in the opening five minutes, but the first clear-cut opportunity was carved by Celtic’s Tom Rogic.
A cultured long ball from the Hoops’ centre-back Filip Benkovic found Mikael Lustig on the right flank, before the Swede knocked it on to James Forrest. The midfielder’s inside pass was picked up by Rogic, who then curled a left-foot drive across goal and off the post.
Much of the game was held up in midfield, and Aberdeen dealt well with Kieran Tierney, Scott Sinclair and Ryan Christie’s smart and direct link-up play on the left side. Just after the quarter-hour mark, Andrew Considine found space in front of goal and, while being flagged offside, forced a great save from Scott Bain.
At 26 minutes, Rogic and Forrest combined to sculpt a half-chance for the Hoops, when ball from the left was taken by Forrest with his back to goal, who then teed up a volley for the Australian that was blocked en route to goal.
One minute later, Odsonne Edouard collected the ball in centre midfield before finding Rogic on the inside-right channel. He then played in Forrest, and the 27-year-old followed with a snap-shot that was dragged wide across Lewis’ right-hand post.
Celtic pressed the Dons increasingly deeper over the course of the half, but a well-organised Aberdeen backline dealt with the Hoops’ build-up play. At the other end, Filip Benkovic and Dedryck Boyata were faultless – with the former occasionally but driving forward confidently from defence.
At 38 minutes, Gary Mackay-Steven and Boyata collided mid-air in the Celtic penalty area which saw both receiving extensive on-pitch treatment. Several minutes after the head knock, Mackay-Steven was stretchered off whereas Boyata was able to carry on.
Four minutes into injury time, Celtic got their break when a superb searching ball from Boyata found Christie in the final third. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder controlled on his left inside the opposition penalty area, before firing a shot a goal with his right that was well saved by Lewis. Christie however returned the rebound with an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net, and the League Cup holders went into the break deservedly in front.
The Hoops continued their pressing play into the second half, and a flurry of counter-attacks provided a handful of half-chances for Forrest and Edouard. At 53 minutes, the Scottish champions were awarded a penalty when Dominic Ball was deemed to have handled in the box.
Sinclair’s spot-kick was well-struck, but Lewis reached to his right to turn around the post. Just before the hour, Benkovic found space 25-yards out, and a rifled shot was again stopped by an out-stretched fingertip save from Lewis.
For the next ten minutes, Aberdeen enjoyed a good spell of pressure, but Edouard regularly looked a threat on the break. On as a substitute for Boyata, Jozo Simunovic had a shoulder-to-shoulder clearance come off the Celtic crossbar, while, minutes later, a sublime piece of footwork from Edouard was followed by a curling shot over.
The French striker may have deserved better in that instance, as might have Sinclair when a similarly aggressive counter from the Englishman and Callum McGregor also ended with a drive high and wide over the bar.
Personally questions must be asked on Scott Sinclair, he cost us today from going two ahead which would have closed the game early. It’s been suggested he’s back to his best, certainly improved but not reliable.
With Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham on for Rogic and Forrest respectively, Celtic dictated the pace of the game and retained possession in the last quarter of an hour, and, despite continually pressing the Dons deep into their half, the Hoops ran out worthy League Cup winners.
Flat Beer Moment: The injury to Gary McKay Steven.
Also: Aberdeen’s Manager claiming the ref cost them whilst his team gave out ninja-assassin attacks.
CELTIC: Bain; Lustig, Boyata (Simunovic 60) Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Christie, Rogic (Brown 64); Forrest (Ntcham 86), Sinclair; Edouard.
Subs not used: Gordon, Gamboa, Hayes, Griffiths.
ABERDEEN: Lewis; Logan, McKenna, Considine, Lowe; Shinnie, McGinn (Wilson 70), Mackay-Steven (McLennan 45), Ball, Fergusson; Cosgrove (Anderson 79)
Subs not used: Cerny, Gleeson, Wright, May.