Aaron Mooy says he is relishing playing for Celtic on the big stage, as his side eventually prevailed 2-0 over a resilient Kilmarnock at Hampden Park to reach the final of the Viaplay Cup.
Daizen Maeda and Giorgos Giakoumakis grabbed the goals as the Hoops progressed to the final of a competition that they triumphed in last year, although Killie more than played their part in an entertaining cup tie.
Summer signing Mooy struggled to break into the Celtic team initially but he has become a vital component in the last few months and he also starred with Australia at the World Cup in Qatar.
Reflecting on reaching his first final as a Celtic player, the midfielder said: “It’s important for our club to be in these finals. That’s what is expected of us. We’re in another final and we’ve got something to look forward to but we just take it game by game.
“One of the reasons I came here is to compete for trophies. Celtic’s a massive club and they’ve got a massive history and they are always challenging so it’s a big plus for players looking at coming here.
“I’m really enjoying my football just now, it’s an amazing club to play for and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
Mooy’s dangerous free-kick was eventually turned in by Maeda after a miscued clearance by Kyle Lafferty to set Celtic on their way to victory, before Giakoumakis wrapped up the points late on.
He added: “The first goal is always important. I didn’t actually see what happened, did Daizen (Maeda) put it straight in? I don’t think I get the assist but I’ll claim it anyway.
“I’m very happy. We got the job done and it was a tough match but we were resilient and got the result.
“When it’s 1-0 it’s always a bit edgy especially with all the big boys in their team, in the set pieces but I thought we handled it really well.
“It was a good atmosphere. You could hear the fans getting behind us. Pitch was a bit soft and I thought it was going to be a bit better than what it was.”
Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes, meanwhile, singled out Danny Armstrong for praise after his stand-out performance for the Ayrshire side.
The winger gave Celtic’s Alexandro Bernabei a torrid time and whipped in a number of threatening crosses, although he was unable to take the one clear-cut chance that fell his way on the stretch at the far post.
McInnes said: “It’s came to him a bit quick but he’s in the right area. Time and time again I’ve said with Danny (Armstrong), he’s on the outside looking in but this time he’s in the area and I would rather he’s in there with the chance to score.
“Sometimes you go in there and you miss those chances but at least he was in the right position.
“He carried the fight today well. He epitomised us as a team today. He showed good personality, good appetite for it and unfortunately he’s not been able to take that big moment but he was terrific throughout.”
The Kilmarnock boss also hailed the progress his team have made in the past year, in winning promotion to the Premiership and reaching a semi-final at Hampden Park for the first time in over a decade.
He added: “We’ve come a long way. This time last year we’re at Palmerston. We’ve made it a proper cup tie today which I’m pleased about but that’s no more than I expected. I expected us to come here today and have a go at it.
“Disappointed that I’ve not been able to get the club into a cup final but a lot of pride in terms of how the supporters recognised the players’ efforts and how the players set about the task.”