GOALS FROM JAMES Forrest and Moussa Dembele helped Celtic lift the Scottish League Cup for a second successive season with a 2-0 win over 10-men Motherwell on Sunday.
After a cagey first half at Hampden Park, Forrest took just three minutes to fire Celtic in front after the interval.
Then a moment of controversy saw referee Craig Thomson harshly award a 60th minute penalty that Dembele converted after Motherwell defender Cedric Kipre was handed a red card.
Celtic’s 17th victory in the competition helps Brendan Rodgers becomes the first Hoops manager since Jock Stein to win four trophies in a row as the Glasgow giants successively defended the first part of the treble they won last season.
It also helped erease the pain of their midweek mauling at PSG in the Champions League.
“It was a brilliant victory for us. We had to tick a few character boxes after midweek and once again the players produced,” Rodgers said.
“It is our fourth trophy in 12 months, a phenomenal achievement really.”
Motherwell’s physical approach, much-maligned by Rodgers in the build-up to the match, was evident early on as Kipre went unpunished for a nasty challenge on Dembele.
The French striker let his anger at this injustice boil over moments later as his name went into referee Thomson’s book for a crude challenge on Carl McHugh.
Celtic were allowed plenty of possession by Motherwell but struggled to find their way behind a well-organised defence until Stuart Armstrong played in Forrest, whose shot was blocked by a last-gasp challenge from McHugh.
Motherwell took the battle to Celtic with Richard Tait firing high and wide at the back post after Dedryck Boyata failed to clear a cross.
Celtic, who only had three days to prepare for the final following their 7-1 drubbing from PSG, lacked a clinical edge as they seemed to be nursing a European hangover.
However, after failing to test Trevor Carson at all in the first half it took the Hoops just three minutes after the restart to open the scoring.
Dembele worked the ball from the left to Callum McGregor who picked out Forrest on the edge of the box, with the winger taking a couple of touches before curling a left-foot strike into the bottom corner.
Motherwell’s reaction was instant with only a superb point-blank save from Craig Gordon keeping out Louis Moult’s bullet header as he connected with Andy Rose’s powerful cross.
However, a moment of controversy on the hour saw Motherwell’s hopes of a comeback dashed.
Celtic winger Scott Sinclair went down under the slightest of contact with Kipre after getting in behind the defender and referee Thomson harshly pointed to the spot and sent the Motherwell man off.
Dembele, who scored a double against Hibernian in the semi-final, calmly sent the resultant spot-kick down the middle to double Celtic’s lead and seal the silverware.
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