26 Nov Celtic win the first major of the season
Celtic took the first step towards successive domestic trebles with a 2-0 Betfred Cup final win over 10-man Motherwell at Hampden Park.
Hoops winger James Forrest curled in the opener in the 49th minute before striker Moussa Dembele fired in a contentious penalty on the hour mark, after Well defender Cedric Kipre was sent off for conceding the spot-kick for a foul on Scott Sinclair with the winger appearing to go down rather easily.
There was no way back for the Steelmen after that and Brendan Rodgers’ side cruised to the final whistle and the first trophy of the season.
The champions had spent the previous days recovering from their 7-1 Champions League defeat away to Paris St Germain on Wednesday night but once again they showed they are without peer in Scotland as they extended their unbeaten domestic run to 65 games.
And with the Ladbrokes Premiership title all-but certain to be retained, the Parkhead side will be strong favourites to win all three major competitions again.
There was a round of applause all around the stadium in the 10th minute in tribute to the late midfielder Phil O’Donnell who played for both clubs and who tragically died 10 years ago aged 35 after collapsing on the pitch at Fir Park.
Celtic began to tighten their control of the game with Motherwell working frantically to suffocate the Hoops attacks, although Well defender Richard Tait was handed a half-chance in the 25th minute from a Charles Dunne cross but lashed an angled shot from 14 yards high over the crossbar.
On the half-hour mark Dembele headed weakly into the arms of Motherwell’s Trevor Carson from a Mikael Lustig cross, before Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon pulled a decent Louis Moult free-kick from distance out of the air just under his crossbar.
Motherwell would have been more pleased with the half-time scoreline but just four minutes into the second half that good work was undone.
As Celtic swarmed around the Motherwell penalty area Forrest took a Callum McGregor pass and from 14 yards curled the ball past Carson and into the far corner.
The Lanarkshire side stormed back and an Andy Rose cross from the left was met at the near post by striker Louis Moult and his header drew a brilliant save at point-blank range from Gordon.
Moments later at the other end, Dembele leapt highest in the box to head a McGregor corner past the far post.
The France Under-21 striker’s aim was better with his penalty, awarded by referee Craig Thomson after Sinclair had quickly gone to ground inside the box after being tugged by Kipre as he raced on to a Dembele pass.
The French defender looked distraught as he left the pitch, taking with him Motherwell’s chances of a first major trophy since 1991, and the Hoops striker hammered in the spot-kick.
Celtic kept pushing and Carson was forced into several saves, most notably from a Leigh Griffiths free-kick, the Scotland striker having replaced Dembele.
Griffiths smashed a shot against the post with 10 minutes remaining but by then the trophy was on its way back to the east end of Glasgow, albeit Moult struck the post with a free-kick, the last action of the game.