Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

Sviatchenko is urging Celtic to ease Cup hurt by clinching league title

By Andy Newport

Erik Sviatchenko insists Celtic will not cry over their Old Firm heartache as he backed his team to clinch a fifth successive league title.

The Hoops suffered their third straight Hampden semi-final defeat on Sunday when Rangers stunned the Parkhead outfit with their penalty shoot-out triumph in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

Mark Warburton's team will now look to complete their own trophy treble when the Ladbrokes Championship and Petrofac Training Cup winners take on Hibernian in the May 21 final.

But defeat leaves Ronny Deila clinging to his job and his men are at their lowest ebb since the Norwegian took over two summers ago.

With a fifth consecutive Premiership crown still to be won, however, Sviatchenko insists Celtic must shake off their disappointment and ensure Aberdeen - eight points behind with five games to play - are not handed a way back into the race.

The Dane, who was also in the Hoops line-up when they lost to Ross County in the last four of this season's League Cup, said: "We had hopes for the final. We were here some months ago in another semi-final and didn't go through.

"This time we were really close. It went to penalties. We bounced back but of course it's a massive disappointment not to go through.

"Sometimes you play well and sometimes you don't play so well. On Sunday, we did not succeed in all the things we wanted to.

"But we have five finals in the Premiership. It's difficult to say that we need to move on but we have two options - one is to go home and cuddle ourselves and cry. But I won't accept that.

"I will go with the other option, which is to bounce back and win the league title.

"I don't know if we need (a wake-up call) because of this game. We all know that we need to achieve something. We are the biggest club and we wanted to go through, but it didn't happen.

"We have it in our own hands in the league and can still win the title. We hoped to win three (trophies) but now we will go for the one."

Celtic were twice behind as a fired-up Rangers came out all guns firing at the National Stadium but took the match to spot-kicks after a 2-2 draw.

Kenny Miller gave the Ibrox side an early lead but Sviatchenko - who climbed off the bench midway through the first-half to replace Dedryck Boyata after a thigh injury ruled him out of the starting line-up - powered home a header just after the interval, while Tom Rogic slotted the Hoops square once again after Barrie McKay's wonder goal for Rangers in extra-time.

But it was the Australian playmaker who ballooned his decisive penalty to hand the Light Blues their shot at Hibs in the final after a 5-4 shoot-out win.

There were plenty of glum faces amongst the Parkhead party as they left Hampden - none more so than on-loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts following his incredible open goal miss.

Pressure is also piling down on boss Deila - although reports yesterday morning suggest he will keep his job until the end of the season at least.

But Sviatchenko insists the Celtic camp are united in support of the former Stromsgodset coach.

He said: "I am 100 per cent behind the manager. I won't comment on anything else.

"This is a massive club but it's the players' game and it's us who need to win the matches and we are all behind the manager.

"We will be behind everyone that needs it. But the guys in the team are all strong characters and they will bounce back.

"At this stage it's quite tough but we are all behind each other and we just need to move on and show character and attitude."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph