James Forrest praises Ryan Christie's work ethic after cup final winner for Celtic
James Forrest believes hard work is paying off for Celtic team-mate Ryan Christie after the midfielder netted the Betfred Cup final winner.
Christie added to a pivotal six weeks in his career with the only goal against Aberdeen at Hampden.
The 23-year-old had to be patient for the first three years of his Celtic career - spending most of the time on loan back at Inverness and then with Aberdeen while making fleeting appearances in the hoops either side of those temporary spells.
But he has kick-started his Parkhead career in style with five goals in eight matches, earning himself a starting place for Scotland in the process.
"He's been unbelievable," Forrest said. "I have always said right from the start that he's been working hard in training behind the scenes. Nobody has really seen that but it is paying off and I'm delighted for him. I just hope he keeps going for club and country."
Christie's form helped keep Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham out of the starting line-up at Hampden.
Forrest said: "It's a real strong position, we have a lot of players there at international level.
"It's great for Ryan that he has come in and done really well. His game keeps improving and he'll just want to keep playing every game to keep going."
The triumph ensured a seventh consecutive domestic trophy for Celtic and kept alive the prospect of a triple treble.
"The last two years it's given us a boost to get this trophy in the bag early doors, so now we can focus on the league until Christmas now," Forrest said.
"The last two years we have won the treble but we never talk about it as a squad. We just go into every game to give our all.
"We know there is pressure in every game we play and I don't think anyone will be talking about that yet. There's a long way to in the season and the other cup hasn't started yet."
PLAYER RATINGS AS CELTIC BEAT ABERDEEN IN BETFRED CUP FINAL
Scott Bain - Any nerves would have settled after an early point-blank save from Andy Considine, even if an offside flag made it redundant. Despite a major effort from Aberdeen, was not seriously tested afterwards. 6
Mikael Lustig - Given some difficult moments but stood up to the challenge more often than not. 6
Dedryck Boyata - Already wounded from a sickening clash of heads with Gary Mackay-Steven, the defender then went off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Found time to deliver an excellent long ball to set up the goal. 6
Filip Benkovic - Forced a good save from long range and defended aggressively. 7
Kieran Tierney - Defended well and had a couple of decent breaks forward. 7
Callum McGregor - Retained his place in the base of the midfield ahead of Scott Brown and again held his team together well, but his best moment came when launching a counter-attack after his skipper came on. 7
Tom Rogic - Struck the post from 20 yards in the seventh minute but could not otherwise find the spark he normally produces at Hampden. 6
James Forrest - Often involved but could not quite produce his recent form, wasting one good first-half chance. 6
Ryan Christie - Continues to increase his influence at Celtic, his run forward for the goal and reaction to net the rebound typified his urgency. 8
Scott Sinclair - Had a penalty saved by Joe Lewis and delivered a bad miss on the counter-attack. 5
Odsonne Edouard - Made himself a decent target and had a couple of efforts saved but was not quite at his best on the ball. 6
Jozo Simunovic (for Boyata, 60) - The most relieved man inside Hampden when his miscued clearance bounced off the underside of the bar and away to safety. 5
Scott Brown (for Rogic, 64) - Provided an extra layer of protection for his defence as Aberdeen pushed hard for an equaliser. 5
Olivier Ntcham (for Forrest, 86) - Added a touch of composure amid the frantic final stages. 4
Joe Lewis - Made a stunning penalty stop and several other good saves. Was unfortunate to see Christie react quickest to net the rebound after he denied the midfielder first time. 9
Shay Logan - Sat very deep to allow Ryan Christie to run beyond the Dons central defence to score. 5
Andrew Considine - Back in central defence, the defender let nobody down. 6
Scott McKenna - Defended stoutly throughout and was a driving force as Aberdeen fought hard to get back in the game. 7
Max Lowe - Marshalled James Forrest well for the majority of the game. 7
Dominic Ball - Unfortunate to concede a penalty when he headed against his arm, the midfielder battled hard. 6
Graeme Shinnie - Could not keep up with Christie's run for the goal but his energy gave Aberdeen every chance of taking the game to Celtic. 7
Niall McGinn - Gave Kieran Tierney a busy afternoon at times and delivered some decent balls. 6
Lewis Ferguson - Got close enough to his striker to be a threat but could not repeat his semi-final heroics. 6
Gary Mackay-Steven - Had some good runs and got a header on target just before being knocked out cold in a clash of heads with Boyata, which ended his afternoon. 6
Sam Cosgrove - Brought into the team as Derek McInnes once again preferred a target man at Hampden and he made himself a nusiance, winning his fair share of headers. Had a decent hooked effort saved. 7
Connor McLennan (for Mackay-Steven, 45) - Was direct and skilful but just could not dig out a telling delivery. 6
James Wilson (for McGinn, 70) - Could not engineer a shooting chance. 5
Bruce Anderson (for Cosgrove, 78) - Was busy and lively up front without getting in behind. 5