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Scottish Cup final: Celtic 3-1 Caley Thistle – Highlanders make Hoops work for treble-clinching trophy win

Goals from Kyogo, Liel Abada and Jota earned a clean sweep for the champions, but Dan MacKay's header provided a late scare before tie was sealed.

Kyogo celebrates after putting Celtiuc in front. Image: Rob Casey/SNS Group
Kyogo celebrates after putting Celtiuc in front. Image: Rob Casey/SNS Group

Caley Thistle were undone by some slick finishes as Celtic ran out 3-1 victors in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden to wrap up a world-record eighth domestic treble.

Kyogo Furuhashi broke ICT’s resistance eight minutes before the interval after the Championship side had stood up the challenge impressively.

A goal from substitute Liel Abada on 65 minutes took the match away from the battling Highlanders.

Yet, a headed response from Dan MacKay with five minutes to go gave a glimmer of hope to Caley Jags just before Jota put the cap on the victory.

The run to the final was a story of success in itself for ICT and they now regroup for a seventh straight year in the second-tier.

Despite famous Scottish Cup wins for the Caley Jags over the Hoops in 2000, 2003 and 2015, this was seen as a mismatch.

Pre-match odds of 25/1 for Billy Dodds’ men to win reflected the ‘no chance’ feeling across much of the nation.

Inverness, who finished sixth in the Championship almost a month ago, were going in against Ange Postecolou’s treble-chasers.

This new club world record of eight domestic clean sweeps seems to be the one where the Australian signs off to become the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur in the coming days.

Inverness fans with a pre-match banner for their heroes. Image: Alan Harvey/SNS Group

There are also huge question marks over ICT’s head coach Billy Dodds after this, his 100th game in charge.

The 54-year-old, and his staff and 13 of his first-team have yet to sign new contracts, with the cup final taking centre stage.

Whether he opts to stay after two years in the Championship remains to be seen.

This was the 150th edition of the competition, which the Glasgow side have won more than any other club, 40 times.

The 2015 winners ICT, of course, made history by getting this far.

They are the first Highland club to reach two Scottish Cup finals. They beat Falkirk in the showdown eight years ago. Ross County were runners-up to Dundee United in 2010.

Inverness were knocked out of this year’s cup by Queen’s Park, but were reinstated when the Spiders were found to have fielded an ineligible player in their 2-0 win in January.

Since then, Billy Dodds’ men defeated Premiership sides Livingston and Kilmarnock, then Falkirk in the semi-final to take their place in this showpiece final fixture of 2022/23.

Around 6,000 Inverness fans were in situ for this 5.30pm showdown, which followed the FA Cup final, thus the controversial switch to a later kick-off time.

Inverness midfielder Nathan Shaw and Celtic’s Carl Starfelt. Image: Alan Harvey/SNS Group

Vastly outnumbered by the green-and-white-clad supporters, who displayed their usual, non-stop, high volume from the stands, ICT’s backers did all they could to encourage the Highland side.

There was just one ICT change from the side which faced Ayr, with David Carson slotting into midfield at the expense of Dan MacKay, whose day began on the bench.

And for the champions, Daizen Maeda came in for Abada in the midfield.

The opening exchanges would have offered early optimism for Inverness, with some slack passes and wrong decisions by the Hoops seeing moves breaking down.

Inverness were keeping their shape well and giving food for thought.

A snapshot chance arrived for Celtic on 20 minutes when a slack header from Cammy Harper fell for Matt O’Riley, who drilled his effort over the crossbar.

Caley Jags defender Wallace Duffy challenges Celtic’s Daizen Maeda. Image: Alan Harvey/SNS Group

Then a misplaced pass from Danny Devine gave the champions another route to goal, but slips in the box by Jota then Reo Hatate allowed time for Inverness to clear.

It was all about defending for the Caley Jags in the first half hour, with openings in the opposite direction not yet happening.

A winning challenge from Wallace Duffy on Maeda 10 minutes before the break adding to the Glasgow team’s frustrations, raising the noise within the ICT support.

However, within a flash, on 37 minutes, O’Riley was picked out on the right and his tempting cross was crashed into the net by, who else, Kyogo for his 34th goal in all competitions this season.

And he was almost adding another goal moments later when, from Hatate’s pass, he swerved an effort around the left post.

So, heading in at the break 1-0 down came at a good time, a chance for the north team to regroup.

Inverness goalkeeper Mark Ridgers raced out to block a drive from Kyogo in the first attack of the second half.

Caley Thistle fans were on their feet on 54 minutes when a darting drive down the right from Duffy then saw him cross in for Nathan Shaw, and the ball was nipped away from him by Greg Taylor.

Inverness manager Billy Dodds. Image: Craig Foy/SNS Group

ICT were, slowly but surely, having some time on the ball, seeking a way in, but staying alive to the threats the other way.

And on 65 minutes, from a cheaply conceded free-kick, the Hoops burst forward in numbers and substitute Abada steered the ball into the net from a Callum McGregor cut-back.

There was a VAR check for possible offside but it was soon confirmed as a second goal. It was a close call, but it fell in favour of the Parkhead men.

Celtic’s Liel Abada makes it 2-0. Image: Craig Williamson/SNS Group

With five minutes to go, an attack from nowhere brought Caley Thistle a stunning late lifeline.

Play was swept out to Duffy and his tempting cross was bulleted home by the head of Dan MacKay.

A great save from Mark Ridgers from sub Sead Haksabanovic prevented a third for Celtic in the closing moments, but Jota arrived in stoppage time to steer home the final goal from close range.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 47,247.

Dan Mackay halves the deficit to 2-1 late on before Jota added a third. Image:  Alan Harvey/SNS Group