A brave Motherwell side succumbed to a 3-0 Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic in the torrential Hampden rain this afternoon.
In a first half of tetchy fouls and trench warfare there was very little between the two sides, yet Lennon’s men went in ahead at the break thanks to a Ki Sung-Yeung’s 25-yard drive.
Motherwell battled hard in the second-half but Celtic doubled their lead on 76 minutes when a deflected Mark Wilson drive painfully crept past Darren Randolph and into the net.
And Charlie Mulgrew completed the win with five minutes remaining, lashing home a powerful free-kick from the edge of the area.
‘Well fans will be forever haunted by the Gavin Gunning drive, late in the first half, which thundered off the bar and could have completely changed the complexion of a defeat in which the men in claret and amber displayed plenty of courage and intensity – but ultimately not enough cutting edge.
Stuart McCall sprung something of a surprise in his starting eleven, with Gunning coming in at left-back, and Steven Hammell taking a place in a tight midfield three with Hateley and Jennings. There were no surprises up front, with the retention of star trio Murphy, Humphrey and Sutton.
Celtic, with an embarrassment of riches going forward, plumped for the partnership of Hooper and Samaras, with Mulgrew a surprise pick in midfield with Brown, Ki and Commons. Lennon’s back four consisted of Wilson, Loovens, Majstorovic and Izaguirre, with Forster taking his usual place in goals.
The scenes before the match were truly remarkable; two laudable card displays from each side of Hampden, brightening up a dreich day in Glasgow’s South side, and wonderful sheer noise generated by both sets of fans – included the sold-out allocation of 16,000-plus Motherwell fans.
That was followed by an impeccably observed tribute to the late, great Phil O’Donnell and Ernie Walker, the respected SFA administrator who recently passed away.
Ahead of the match there was a tangible feeling that, to win, Motherwell would have to weather the early storm of a frustrated Celtic, given their SPL failure the previous weekend. That certainly turned out to be the case as, within three minutes, Gary Hooper struck the bar from a whipped Commons cross. But the flag was already raised for offside, and the ‘Well defence breathed again.
Motherwell defended well against the territorial dominance of Celtic in the early stages, and the Hoops should have actually been down to ten men within the first ten minutes. Majstorovic made a shocking, studs-up challenge on John Sutton, which made full contact with the big striker’s leg. Calum Murray decided to show only a yellow for the red-card offence.
That was followed by a booking for Keith Lasley for a fairly reckless challenge, as the Hampden showpiece developed into something of a niggly affair in incessant Glasgow downpour.
A scrappy affair was enlightened by the only real moment of genuine quality just after the half-hour mark. South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung – booked moments earlier for a poor foul – was afforded too much space 25 yards out, and proceeded to lash a rasping low drive past Darren Randolph.
The men in claret and amber appeared to be stung into life by the Boys’ opener, and the Steelmen came within the width of a crossbar from gaining a spectacular equaliser. Gunning, a surprise pick from Stuart McCall, surged forward from left-back and, from all of 30 yards, thundered a stunning effort against the underside of the bar.
A slightly bizarre refereeing performance from Calum Murray was compounded soon after, as the grounded Stephen Craigan clearly flicked the ball away from Samaras with his arm, while on the edge of the area. A harsher referee may have sent the ‘Well captain off; Murray didn’t even blow for a foul. Craigan, himself, will probably admit he got away with one there.
McCall’s men emerged onto the sodden turf in the second-half knowing they would need to score at least once to have any hope of lifting the oldest national trophy in World football, but Celtic were immediately on the ascendancy.
Indeed, they could have doubled their lead as a Ki corner caused absolute havoc in the six-yard box, only to be desperately scrambled away by the ‘Well backline. Motherwell posted their response almost immediately, with a crisp Chris Humphrey volley at the back-post. But Fraser Forster was sharp enough to get down and grasp the Jamaican’s effort.
The legions of ‘Well fans who made the short trip down the M73 had the excellent Shaun Hutchinson to thank for keeping them in the game with 25 minutes left to play of a more lively second half. Kris Commons was delightfully slipped through on goal and, as he played the ball across for Hooper to inevitably tap into an empty net, the big Geordie intercepted to lash clear.
It proved to be only a stay of execution of the Steelme, as Celtic doubled their lead with 15 minutes still to play – and frankly the goal was as cruel as they come. A dreadful Mark Wilson drive deflected off ‘Well captain Stephen Craigan, utterly eluding Randolph and crawling over the line in apparent slow-motion, despite the best efforts of Hutchinson on the line.
And with Motherwell demoralised, and chasing the game, Celtic added a third and some gloss to the scoreline. The Hoops were given a free-kick on the edge of the area and Mulgrew, a scorer in Celtic’s semi-final win over Aberdeen, proceeded to power a sweet strike into the corner of the net to end the game.
[tab:As it happened]
90+3mins – FULL TIME – The referee ends the match.
90+2mins – Shot by Anthony Stokes from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
90mins – Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Tom Hateley.
90mins – Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley from the left by-line to the near post, Sung-Yeung Ki makes a clearance.
90mins – Centre by John Sutton, blocked by Daniel Majstorovic.
90mins – The ball is swung over by Tom Hateley.
89mins – Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Tom Hateley.
89mins – Centre by Tom Hateley, clearance made by Daniel Majstorovic.
88mins – Sub – Patrick McCourt joins the action as a substitute, replacing Gary Hooper.
87mins – GOAL – Charlie Mulgrew: Motherwell 0 – 3 Celtic Charlie Mulgrew grabs a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the box to the top left corner of the goal.
86mins – Foul by Stephen Craigan on Gary Hooper, free kick awarded.
85mins – The ball is swung over by Anthony Stokes.
84mins – The assistant referee flags for offside against Steve Jones. Fraser Forster takes the indirect free kick.
84mins – Emilio Izaguirre challenges Tom Hateley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
83mnis – Foul by Keith Lasley on Sung-Yeung Ki, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Emilio Izaguirre.
81mins – Free kick awarded for a foul by Daniel Majstorovic on Francis Jeffers. Direct free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
80mins – Sub – James Forrest joins the action as a substitute, replacing Kris Commons.
80mins – Effort on goal by Kris Commons from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
79mins – The ball is delivered by Chris Humphrey, save by Fraser Forster.
79mins – Sub – Motherwell make a substitution, with Steve Jones coming on for Jamie Murphy.
75mins – Kris Commons takes a shot.
75mins – OWN GOAL – Stephen Craigan: Motherwell 0 – 2 Celtic An unfortunate own goal is conceded by Stephen Craigan.
73mins – Kris Commons has a drilled shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
71mins – Sub – Francis Jeffers comes on in place of Stevie Hammell.
71mins – Glenn Loovens has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the goal.
71mins – Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sung-Yeung Ki from the left by-line, clearance made by Shaun Hutchinson.
71mins – The ball is sent over by Charlie Mulgrew, Tom Hateley gets a block in.
69mins – Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Kris Commons.
68mins – Kris Commons has a direct shot on goal from the free kick, save by Darren Randolph.
68mins – Booking – The referee books Stephen Craigan for unsporting behaviour.
68mins – Unfair challenge on Anthony Stokes by Stephen Craigan results in a free kick.
67mins – Daniel Majstorovic takes the direct free kick.
67mins – Subs – Georgios Samaras leaves the field to be replaced by Anthony Stokes.
67mins – Daniel Majstorovic fouled by John Sutton, the ref awards a free kick.
66mins – Corner taken by Kris Commons.
65mins – Kris Commons takes a shot. Clearance made by Shaun Hutchinson.
64mins – Charlie Mulgrew crosses the ball, save by Darren Randolph.
64mins – The ball is swung over by Gary Hooper.
63mins – Foul by Steve Jennings on Georgios Samaras, free kick awarded. Kris Commons takes the direct free kick.
62mins – Free kick awarded for a foul by John Sutton on Daniel Majstorovic. Direct free kick taken by Fraser Forster.
61mins – Unfair challenge on Shaun Hutchinson by Georgios Samaras results in a free kick. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
60mins – Foul by Tom Hateley on Charlie Mulgrew, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Daniel Majstorovic.
58mins – Handball by Gavin Gunning. Direct free kick taken by Mark Wilson.
57mins – The ball is crossed by Gavin Gunning, Sung-Yeung Ki manages to make a clearance.
57mins – A cross is delivered by Chris Humphrey, Glenn Loovens makes a clearance.
56mins – Centre by Gavin Gunning.
55mins – The ball is crossed by Charlie Mulgrew.
54mins – The ball is delivered by Gavin Gunning, clearance made by Kris Commons.
53mins – Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gavin Gunning by Kris Commons. Direct free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.
53mins – Chris Humphrey produces a volleyed right-footed shot from 18 yards. Save by Fraser Forster.
52mins – The ball is crossed by Gavin Gunning.
51mins – Corner taken by Sung-Yeung Ki from the left by-line played to the near post, Stevie Hammell makes a clearance.
51mins – The ball is delivered by Emilio Izaguirre, blocked by Chris Humphrey.
49mins – Emilio Izaguirre sends in a cross, save by Darren Randolph.
47mins – The ball is swung over by Kris Commons.
45mins – The second half kicks off.
45mins – HALF TIME – The match has reached half-time.
45mins – The ball is crossed by Georgios Samaras.
39mins – Chris Humphrey crosses the ball.
38mins – The ball is swung over by Gavin Gunning, clearance made by Emilio Izaguirre.
36mins – The referee gives a free kick against Daniel Majstorovic for handball. Stevie Hammell delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, clearance made by Scott Brown.
35mins – Drilled left-footed shot by Gavin Gunning comes back of the bar.
35mins – Centre by Chris Humphrey, Daniel Majstorovic manages to make a clearance.
33mins – Keith Lasley concedes a free kick for a foul on Georgios Samaras. Shot comes in from Kris Commons from the free kick.
31mins – GOAL – Sung-Yeung Ki: Motherwell 0 – 1 Celtic Sung-Yeung Ki grabs a goal from a long way out to the bottom left corner of the goal.
30mins – Stephen Craigan takes the free kick.
30mins – Booking – Sung-Yeung Ki is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
29mins – Keith Lasley fouled by Sung-Yeung Ki, the ref awards a free kick.
28mins – Gary Hooper fouled by Keith Lasley, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Daniel Majstorovic.
26mins – Scott Brown fouled by Stevie Hammell, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew from right wing.
25mins – Steve Jennings concedes a free kick for a foul on Scott Brown. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Kris Commons, clearance by Shaun Hutchinson.
25mins – Centre by Charlie Mulgrew, clearance by Stephen Craigan.
24mins – Unfair challenge on Gary Hooper by Steve Jennings results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Mark Wilson.
22mins – The ball is crossed by Mark Wilson, Shaun Hutchinson manages to make a clearance.
22mins – The ball is swung over by Charlie Mulgrew, Jamie Murphy makes a clearance.
21mins – Steve Jennings concedes a free kick for a foul on Gary Hooper. Direct free kick taken by Mark Wilson.
20mins – Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shaun Hutchinson by Georgios Samaras. Tom Hateley takes the free kick.
19mins – Steve Jennings concedes a free kick for a foul on Gary Hooper. Daniel Majstorovic restarts play with the free kick.
18mins – Darren Randolph takes the direct free kick.
18mins – Booking – Booking for Scott Brown for unsporting behaviour.
18mins – Foul by Scott Brown on Stevie Hammell, free kick awarded.
16mins – The ball is swung over by Emilio Izaguirre, Steve Jennings manages to make a clearance.
14mins – Direct free kick taken by Fraser Forster.
14mins – Booking – Keith Lasley receives a caution.
14mins – Foul by Keith Lasley on Glenn Loovens, free kick awarded.
14mins – Emilio Izaguirre delivers the ball, save by Darren Randolph.
12mins – Charlie Mulgrew sends in a cross, clearance made by Shaun Hutchinson.
11mins – Gavin Gunning fouled by Kris Commons, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
10mins – Chris Humphrey challenges Emilio Izaguirre unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Fraser Forster.
9mins – Stevie Hammell takes the direct free kick.
9mins – Booking – Daniel Majstorovic is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
9mins – Daniel Majstorovic challenges John Sutton unfairly and gives away a free kick.
6mins – Scott Brown gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stevie Hammell. Stephen Craigan restarts play with the free kick.
4mins – Daniel Majstorovic fouled by John Sutton, the ref awards a free kick. Fraser Forster takes the direct free kick.
4mins – Gavin Gunning sends in a cross, clearance by Daniel Majstorovic.
4mins – The ball is sent over by Chris Humphrey, Mark Wilson makes a clearance.
4mins – Kris Commons delivers the ball, clearance by Shaun Hutchinson.
3mins – Unfair challenge on Georgios Samaras by Stevie Hammell results in a free kick. Scott Brown restarts play with the free kick.
2mins – Kris Commons delivers the ball, clearance made by Steve Jennings.
1min – The offside flag is raised against Gary Hooper. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.
1min – Centre by Kris Commons, Gary Hooper takes a shot.
1min – Corner taken by Kris Commons from the left by-line played to the near post, Gavin Gunning makes a clearance.
1min – The game kicks-off.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We knew we had to be at our best and a few of us weren’t at their best but we couldn’t ask for anymore in desire, drive and determination,” said McCall.
“There’s no doubt Celtic were the better side. But the couple of bits of luck, if they had gone for us, could’ve changed the game.
“They’ve had one long-range shot from Ki which has screamed in, we’ve had one long-range shot which has hit the underside of the bar and come out. After they scored, we raised our game. We started playing like we can do.
“With 15 minutes to go we were 1-0 down and were still in it and then it was the cruelest of cruel deflections.”
Celtic Manager Neil Lennon:
“It’s the first trophy for a few years and the players deserve it – so do the supporters.
“Motherwell did very well and made a great contribution to the final, but we were superb. We were a bit too clinical at times and tried to walk the ball into the net at times.
“You can’t deny the quality in the squad, and it manifested itself again today.”