Celtic claim first silverware under Postecoglou thanks to Furuhashi's brace

The Japan forward returned from injury to break Hibernian’s hearts today at Hampden Park.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou (centre) shows off the Premier Sports Cup with Kyogo Furuhashi and Callum McGregor.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou (centre) shows off the Premier Sports Cup with Kyogo Furuhashi and Callum McGregor.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

KYOGO FURUHASHI CEMENTED his hero status among the Celtic support by firing them to their first trophy of the Ange Postecoglou era.

The Japan forward returned from a hamstring injury to hit a Hampden double as Celtic came from behind to beat Hibernian 2-1 in the Premier Sports Cup final.

The game burst to life after a cagey first half during which Celtic suffered another hamstring injury as David Turnbull hobbled off in some distress.

Skipper Paul Hanlon headed Hibs into a 51st-minute lead with his side’s first effort on target but Furuhashi levelled 60 seconds later after getting beyond the Hibs defence to meet a lofted ball from Callum McGregor.

The speedy striker netted in similar circumstances in the 72nd minute when he brought down a quickly-taken free-kick from Tom Rogic and lobbed Hibs goalkeeper Matt Macey for his 16th goal for Celtic.

The Celtic fans chanted Postecoglou’s name in the final stages and they survived some late scares as the former Australia head coach delivered silverware at the first time of asking.

There was no fairytale for Hibs caretaker manager David Gray, their 2016 Scottish Cup final match-winner. Former skipper Gray stepped up when Jack Ross was sacked earlier this month and could have joined Eddie Turnbull in winning silverware as a Hibs player and manager.

Both sides had pre-match injury boosts, with Furuhashi returning after two games out with a hamstring strain, although James Forrest missed out. Anthony Ralston had to settle for a place on the bench despite his last-gasp midweek winner against Ross County.

Kevin Nisbet shook off a midweek injury scare to keep his place in the Hibernian team, while Chris Cadden dropped to the bench after also going off with a knock against Dundee. Jamie Murphy came into the starting line-up.

The game quickly settled into a pattern of Celtic probing and Hibs sitting but the only first-half shot on target came from Greg Taylor, whose bouncing long-range effort was stopped by Macey.

Carl Starfelt had a good chance from a corner when he broke away from the pack but could not get a solid enough contact on his free header.

Turnbull pulled up while playing a ball forward and was eventually replaced by Nir Bitton.

The game got even tighter. Celtic were trying to thread balls through a packed defence while Hibs’ only sniff of a first-half chance came after some direct running from Martin Boyle. Nisbet tried to play in Josh Campbell but the ball skidded away from the midfielder.

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The game livened up immediately after the interval. Hanlon made an excellent sliding block on Furuhashi before opening the scoring moments later. The defender held off Starfelt to head in Boyle’s corner despite Josip Juranovic’s efforts to stop it going over the line.

Hampden was shrouded in green smoke when Celtic instantly levelled. The Hibs defence were looking for an offside flag while Furuhashi slotted a left-footed shot inside Macey’s near post.

The game had completely opened up. Macey got a fingertip to Rogic’s chip and Starfelt again got free from a corner and glanced his header beyond the far post. Nisbet turned Starfelt inside and out but Joe Hart came out to narrow the angle and block the shot.

The winner came after Hanlon was penalised for catching Liel Abada with his arm in an aerial challenge just inside the Celtic half. Rogic spotted the opportunity and sent the ball over the Hibs defence for Furuhashi to lob Macey with his right foot.

Rogic had an effort saved before Hibs came so close to an equaliser in the 89th minute after Hanlon headed on a ball into the box. Nisbet headed against a post before Hanlon blazed the rebound over.

Hart sealed the victory for Celtic in stoppage time when he got down to stop Joe Newell’s drilled effort.

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