Ange Postecoglou wins Scottish League Cup final with Celtic

Ange Postecoglou celebrates his first trophy as Celtic manager after the Australian’s team came from behind to win the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park and beat Hibernian 2-1.

The former Socceroos manager, who took the reins at Parkhead five months ago, accused of restoring their Scottish dominance, ended up hoisting match-winner Kyogo Furuhashi in the air on Sunday after the Japanese scored twice to give Celtic a 20th League Cup triumph.

That meant contrasting fortunes for two Socceroos stars, with Celtic’s Tom Rogic playing a huge role in Celtic’s victory as he scored the winning goal, while winger Martin Boyle, probably Hibs’ best of the day, was on the losing side.

Boyle had sent over the corner, from which Paul Hanlon headed the Edinburgh team into the lead in the 51st minute, only for Furuhashi to respond just a minute later.

The Japanese national team player then grabbed Rogic’s clever, quick free kick in the 72nd minute to cut the ball past the advancing ‘goalkeeper Matt Macey to his 16th goal of the season.

Postecoglou, who had been under pressure to deliver after Celtics’ trophy-free season and the resurgence of rivals Rangers under Steven Gerrard, was uncharacteristically emotional when he told the BBC on the pitch in Hampden: “It’s all a bit surreal.

“We’ve had a hell of a trip from the moment I arrived, we’ve had some real challenges, up and down results, and I’m so proud of this group of players, they’s just so robust.”

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou celebrates with the Premier Sports Cup Trophy during the Premier Sports Cup final between Celtic and Hibernian at Hampden Park on 19 December 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group via Getty Images)

Celtic Manager Ange Postecoglou Celebrates with Premier Sports Cup Trophy (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group via Getty Images)

Especially the Celtics hero Furuhashi, who has proved Postecoglou’s finest signing but had been in doubt for the final with a hamstring injury.

“A great player – but what a person,” Postecoglou said.

“He just had in mind that he was going to play. We thought it would not happen, but he just made himself available even though he is not 100 percent.

“To be honest, I do not know how he did it today.

“This football club and him is a match made in heaven.”

Furuhashi’s magical touch has been evident since he was spotted by the former Japan-based Postecoglou, who brought him to Parkhead in the summer.

He was the man who made the difference after a rather sad first half when Furuhashi just after Hanlon’s goal scored a left-footed finish.

Then Rogic, who has been in brilliant form since returning from injury and was only second-best after Furuhashi as the Celtics’ prominent player, was quick to take a free kick after Hanlon committed an assault on Liel Abada and selected the Japanese attacks knowingly.

The goal triggered more cheerful interpretations of Celtic fans’ new favorite party song, their own version of the Wham hit ‘Last Christmas’, which features the classic line: “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, and the very next day you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I’m giving it to Postecoglou … “

It made the Aussie smile.

“These fans are everything, mate,” he said.

“My first task when I took the role was that I would give them hope.

“I could not guarantee them success, I could not guarantee anything, but I wanted to give them hope – and I think they saw it from day one.”