Celtic wrap up treble with Scottish Cup success over Inverness
Celtic clinched the domestic treble with a 3-1 Scottish Cup final win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden Park.
The showpiece occasion was played against the backdrop of mounting speculation around Tottenham’s interest in Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou, who again had Kyogo Furuhashi to thank for his contribution.
The Japan striker struck for the 34th times this season in the 38th minute of an otherwise nondescript first half to undo the good early work of Billy Dodds’ rank outsiders.
The Championship outfit, who had not played a competitive game for a month, fell further behind when Hoops’ half-time substitute Liel Abada slid in a second in the 65th minute.
Caley substitute Dan MacKay pulled a goal back with five minutes remaining, only for Portuguese winger Jota to restore Celtic’s two-goal advantage as the game slipped into six minutes of added time.
It is the eighth time Celtic had completed the clean sweep of League, League Cup and Scottish Cup – a world record – and now eyes turn to see what the future holds for Postecoglou, who is the fifth Parkhead manager to win the treble.
Celtic went into the game as overwhelming favourites. The vast majority of the stadium was clad in green and white and those expectant Hoops fans were glad to see Furuhashi declared fit while fellow countryman Daizen Maeda returned from suspension to take over from Abada.
For Caley Thistle, David Carson took over from MacKay and in searing Hampden heat the Celtic players chased and harried their lower league opponents from the first whistle.
Dodds’ side remained disciplined and calm in defence but there was little menace from the Highland side at the other end of the pitch.
The first real threat on the Inverness goal came in the 19th minute when midfielder Matt O’Riley’s shot on the stretch from 14 yards bounced wide of the target.
Inverness defender Danny Devine’s careless pass soon afterwards had his side in all sorts of trouble which only ended in the Caley Thistle box when Reo Hatate slipped.
In the 37th minute O’Riley’s angled drive was saved by goalkeeper Mark Ridgers but a minute later the Caley Thistle defence succumbed when the Parkhead playmaker reached the byline and cut the ball back for Furuhashi to drive high into the net from eight yards.
There was a feeling then that it was already too much of a task for Inverness, who wobbled.
Two minutes later, Tomiki Iwata played in Furuhashi but his effort, with the outside of his boot with only Ridgers to beat, missed the far post.
Abada replaced Maeda for the start of the second half and Celtic immediately regained their grip on the game. Inverness had little option but to adopt a more positive and more direct approach and gaps opened up at the back, albeit Celtic were guilty at times of taking too many touches around the penalty area.
Just before the hour mark South Korean foreward Hyeon-gyu Oh replaced Furuhashi but it was Abada who made his mark, doubling the lead.
The substitute finished off a sweeping Celtic move when he knocked in a Callum McGregor cutback from close range – the effort was checked by VAR and given the green light.
Celtic were coasting but when MacKay headed a Wallace Duffy cross past Parkhead keeperJoe Hart with five minutes remaining, suddenly it was game on.
Ridgers saved an effort from Hoops substitute Sead Haksabanovic as Celtic regained focus and control before Jota converted a cross from Abada to ease any Parkhead nerves in added-time.