Ange Postecoglou hails ‘outstanding' Kyogo Furuhashi after Hampden heroics
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou felt two-goal Kyogo Furuhashi epitomised the hard work that brought his side more silverware as a 2-1 win over Rangers sealed the Viaplay Cup.
The Japanese striker supplied two close-range finishes as the Scottish champions retained the trophy at Hampden.
Furuhashi also hit a double in last season’s final against Hibernian and Postecoglou stressed how well-deserved his glory is.
“It’s invaluable to have a player who is willing to do everything in his power to help the team,” he said.
“It’s not just about his goals. Obviously the goals are the most important thing but he just works so hard. He is not floating about out there just waiting for a chance, he is running his socks off to do what other strikers won’t do because he knows it’s the right thing for the team.
“Players at this club are often measured by how they perform on the biggest of stages and he delivers again.
“You look at his size and the players he is up against and he doesn’t shirk anything. He puts the opposition under pressure, he is so clever with his movement, and he wants to be front and centre when the opportunities are there.
“He was outstanding and he has been outstanding and he has been outstanding from the moment he joined this club.”
Postecoglou has now won three of the four trophies handed out since he arrived in Scotland and his team are chasing a treble this season.
“The players and staff have worked awfully hard and part of the process is to get rewarded at some point so you can keep working hard,” he said.
“The boys got their rewards which is well deserved and we know what it means for our supporters.”
Furuhashi gave Celtic a deserved half-time lead and doubled their advantage 11 minutes into the second half but Rangers soon made a game of it after Alfredo Morelos notched following a set-piece.
“It’s a cup final and rarely will one side dominate, although I thought we were fantastic in terms of our football in such a big game with the atmosphere the way it was, we scored two excellent goals,” Postecoglou said.
“Credit to Rangers they stuck in there and went a bit more direct and we had to defend a lot and they got some encouragement from their goal.
“But we have a real resilient group of players and the back four were outstanding in dealing with what they needed to deal with in terms of crosses.
“We had to navigate a sticky patch and finished strong and probably should have put the game away but we earned it by doing all the facets of the game.”
Rangers manager Michael Beale admitted they had paid for a slow start as he suffered his first defeat in charge of the Ibrox club.
“We started the game really poorly,” he said. “We were always in the game but we never played with a rhythm that we wanted to or can do in the first half.
“There’s no complaints with the result. At the start of the second half we improved and had a big moment when Ryan (Kent) hits the post and we should do better with the rebound.
“If we score in that moment then it might be a momentum change but we find ourselves 2-0 down. We score and showed a lot of character and resilience to push the game but I was expecting more from myself and the team so it’s disappointing.”
Beale felt their fightback was down to “energy and intensity” but he added: “We didn’t play to our true level. Why that is, I will have to go back with the staff and players and look at it because there have been a few times since I have come back – and I don’t want to make a mountain of the performance because we have done well, that’s the first defeat in 15 games – but there’s been a number of games where it’s taken an honest half-time conversation to force a reaction from the team.”
Beale defended his selection after dropping recent signings Nicolas Raskin and Todd Cantwell and starting with pre-match injury doubts Malik Tillman and John Lundstram alongside Glen Kamara in midfield.
“That same team played ever so well in the Old Firm at New Year, it played the best performance since I have come back, against Hearts,” he said.
“You have got two players come into the club and have played two and a half games each against opponents where you have got the ball. There was a little bit more we had to do today defensively and also match legs.”