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Celtic treble dream goes up in smoke

Celtic 0 Morton 1 (AET): Celtic manager Neil Lennon insisted he will take a "philosophical" approach to the shock 1-0 Scottish League Cup third-round defeat to Morton at Parkhead.

A mostly uneventful stalemate in 90 minutes ensured another half-hour's play and five minutes into the extra period, the Ton midfielder Dougie Imrie (pictured) scored from the penalty spot after referee Bobby Madden adjudged Celtic defender Efe Ambrose to have handled when challenging Greenock substitute Archie Campbell.

The Hoops bombarded the Morton goal, but despite 27 corners and numerous efforts on goal, they could not draw level leaving the delighted Championship side to take the plaudits from the travelling support at the final whistle

The Celtic boss said: "I have got to be philosophical about it. It wasn't for the attitude or want of trying in the game. It just wasn't our night for whatever reason.

"The only disappointment for me is we had 26 corners and we didn't convert one of them with the height we had in the team.

"We have to take our chances. We ended up putting Virgil van Dijk up to give us something different and certainly we created a lot more."

With the top tier of the stadium closed and the rest of the ground far from full, the first half was pretty uneventful not to say uninspiring.

Charlie Mulgrew, playing at left-back in a reshuffled Hoops side, came closest to scoring with a free-kick which was tipped away for a corner by Morton's French goalkeeper, Nicolas Caraux.

However, Ton, second-bottom of the Scottish Championship, defended stoutly for the rest of the 90 minutes without offering much of a threat in attack but Imrie's penalty was all they needed.

Hoops manager Neil Lennon had noted beforehand that he had not yet won this trophy as a manager and he will have to wait at least another year.

Little was expected of Allan Moore's men who arrived with only a smattering of players with top-flight experience, including Jonathan Page, Marc Fitzpatrick and Imrie.

Israel midfielder Nir Biton made his first start for Celtic while there was the rare sight of goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska and midfielders Dylan McGeouch and Tom Rogic, as Mikael Lustig returned to right-back after recovering from a groin strain.

Despite the changes, it was still a strong Celtic side and in the early stages they had to contend with Greenock enthusiasm on and off the pitch.

The Hoops just couldn't find a way through the Morton defence and Lennon turned to Anthony Stokes and Adam Matthews in pursuit of a winning goal.

With Lennon's last throw of the dice he brought on Kris Commons for Boerrigter but still the game slipped into extra time.

Imrie's penalty shook the home side who threw everything forward in their quest for a leveller.

Caraux saved from a van Dijk header with the Dutchman coming closer moments later with a shot which bounced past the far post.

The second half of extra time saw the Hoops continue to bombard the Morton goal with Caraux making a fine save from Lustig from yet another Hoops corner.

Page cleared van Dijk's goal-bound header off the line and Mulgrew hit the post before the visitors heard the sweet sound of the final whistle.

Belfast Telegraph


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