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Scottish Cup has special place in Celts' hearts, says McGregor

 

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic's dramatic and historic William Hill Scottish Cup final victory over Aberdeen last year will live with Callum McGregor forever and the midfielder has stressed the importance of the competition to the Hoops.

Tom Rogic's last-gasp strike gave the Parkhead side a 2-1 win to clinch the domestic treble and complete a season without defeat by Scottish opposition.

Ahead of the visit of Partick Thistle in the last 16 today, the 24-year-old Scotland midfielder said: "The Scottish Cup means a great deal.

"It is a massive competition for us, the scenes we had that day were excellent, it was special as a group so we hold it in high regard.

"It was the last day of the season, we had so much riding on it so to win the game and get the invincible tag, and win the treble and all that, it is going to live with you to the end of your days. It is a special day to remember."

McGregor was less inclined to discuss possible back-to-back trebles, with Celtic looking simply to respond positively to the 1-0 loss at Kilmarnock in the Ladbrokes Premiership last weekend.

That was only their second defeat by Scottish opposition since Brendan Rodgers took over as boss in 2016.

McGregor said: "We don't want to sit and talk about the treble again.

"We just want to get back to winning ways and start focusing on every game the way we did last season.

"That's what got us the success so we have to go back to that and back to basics a wee bit.

"Kilmarnock played really well on the day, we didn't play so well. So we will definitely be looking to put it right."

McGregor refused to dwell on the defeat in Ayrshire, putting the result in context.

The champions sit eight points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the league with a Europa League clash against Russian side Zenit St Petersburg coming up later in the month.

The former Celtic youth player said: "We are still favourites in the league and we have a decent margin as well to play with.

"We won the (Betfred) cup, we are in the last 32 of the Europa League and have been beaten twice. We won't get too carried away talking about defeats.

"We have been beaten twice in 100 games or something like that, so it is important for us that we stay positive and not listen to the criticism that comes our way.

"If you look at this season on its own, it's still been a great season."

Ulsterman Rodgers also has fond memories of last season's Scottish Cup success, and is looking for more Hampden Park glory this season.

The former Swansea and Liverpool boss stressed the importance of victory against Partick today - the side the Hoops beat 2-1 in the Ladbrokes Premiership last month.

"Naturally it is a cup that we want to win like every competition that we have been in," he said.

"It is a really prestigious competition, we really enjoyed winning it last year and the nature of how we won it was really special.

"There was a real feel around the Scottish Cup final day.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it and that is our aim, to go and do the same thing this year.

"But Partick have always been difficult.

"I think Alan (Archibald) is an excellent coach, him and his staff have managed their squad very well and they are always a difficult team to beat.

"We obviously played a few weeks back so we know their threat and the qualities they have.

"We are never complacent in any game we play and in particular against a Partick team that will look to bounce back after their result (2-0 defeat by Rangers) in midweek."

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