Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Hibernian 0 Celtic 3: Hoops clinch their 36th Scottish Cup

Celtic Manager Neil Lennon lifts the cup after winning the William Hill Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park, Glasgow
Celtic Manager Neil Lennon lifts the cup after winning the William Hill Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park, Glasgow
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 26: Gary Hooper (2R) of Celtic celebrates after he scores the second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup Final match between Celtic and Hibernian at Hampden Stadium on May 26, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 26: Gary Hooper (2R) of Celtic celebrates after he scores the second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup Final match between Celtic and Hibernian at Hampden Stadium on May 26, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 26:  Eoin Doyle of Hibernian competes with Mikael Lustig of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup Final match between Celtic and Hibernian at Hampden Stadium on May 26, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 26: Eoin Doyle of Hibernian competes with Mikael Lustig of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup Final match between Celtic and Hibernian at Hampden Stadium on May 26, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Gary Hooper's first-half double helped Celtic to a comfortable William Hill Scottish Cup final win over Hibernian at Hampden Park which completed the domestic double for Neil Lennon's side.

The game turned in favour of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions as early as the seventh minute when Hoops keeper Fraser Forster made a great save from a close-range Eoin Doyle header.

Hooper ran up the park moments later and scored the first of two almost identical goals, both coming from Anthony Stokes crosses, with midfielder Joe Ledley sealing the win with a 79th-minute strike.

For Hibs, who were thrashed 5-1 in last year's final by Edinburgh rivals Hearts, their quest to win the competition for the first time since 1902 limps painfully on.

Their fans put up a show of defiance in the final stages but left Glasgow wondering what might have happened if Doyle, playing his last game before moving to Chesterfield, had scored his early chance.

The afternoon started positively enough for the Easter Road side who were without skipper James McPake, ruled out on Friday with a back complaint.

The Leith side, full of enthusiasm and vigour, should have taken the lead when left-back Ryan McGivern put the ball on to the head of Doyle eight yards from goal but the Irishman's header was brilliantly saved by Forster.

Hibs paid for that only a minute later when right-back Alan Maybury only half-cleared Mikael Lustig's cross from the right with the ball being picked up wide on the left by Stokes.

The former Hibs striker turned and sent an inviting cross to the back post which evaded Easter Road stand-in skipper Ben Williams with Hooper confidently volleying into the net.

Celtic, playing in all black, took control of the game thereafter.

A fine pass from Hoops midfielder Kris Commons on the half-hour mark opened up the Hibs defence and found Ledley but Williams made a good save from the drive before the Leith side cleared their lines.

However, the Hoops' second goal was only moments away and came when Stokes' cross from the left again found Hooper at the back post and he headed it back across Williams and into the corner of the net.

Hibs looked deflated as they surveyed the task ahead.

Leigh Griffiths had half a chance in the 37th minute when a long ball from midfielder Kevin Thomson caught out the Parkhead defence but although the on-loan Wolves striker went past Forster, the angle was too tight and his attempted shot went across the goal with no real prospect of sneaking in.

Stokes almost got on the scoresheet himself in the 52nd minute with a right-footed drive from the edge of the box which fizzed just past the far post.

Amid an early second-half surge from Hibs, Celtic skipper Scott Brown and Hibees midfielder Jorge Claros were both booked for a spat that had several players from both sides excited.

There was little urgency, though, from the Parkhead side although they retained enough of a threat to suggest another goal was at their finger tips if required.

Hibs looked powerless to do anything about their plight.

Danny Handling replaced Doyle, Ross Caldwell came on for Thomson and Georgios Samaras took over from Commons by which time the game was petering out.

Ledley brought the Celtic fans back to life, though, when, from 14 yards, he converted a cross from Lustig which had been missed by Hooper for his hat-trick.

That was the signal for the Celtic fans to begin their celebrations in earnest as the Hibs support pondered another missed opportunity to exorcise their Scottish Cup ghost of 1902.

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