Celtic Beating Hearts in the 2019 Scottish Cup Final

It was on the historic day of 25 May, some 52 years after Lisbon, that Celtic won the Scottish Cup for the 39th time, beating Hearts 2-1 in the final. It gave Celtic their “treble treble”, a feat unprecedented in Scottish football, and it was one of the jewels in the crown of this illustrious era. The League Cup had been won in December by beating Aberdeen 1-0 and the League had been won a few weeks ago again funnily enough with a win over Aberdeen, this time at Pittodrie.

And yet it had been a strange season. In the late winter/early spring, Manager Brendan Rodgers who had reached heroic status (and was approaching sainthood!) among the support had astounded everyone by suddenly departing for Leicester City. This astonishing decision was quite rightly seen as a betrayal by the support, and was even questioned in the neutral press for the timing, apart from anything else.

If he had felt that he had done all that he could do for Celtic – Europe remained a sad blot of his copybook, but that was the same for many Celtic Managers – then surely the time to move on was at the end of the season when he could have done so with dignity and the respect, if not the love, of those who had hitherto adored him. He could have then been forever known as the “treble treble” man. As it was, he departed like a thief in the night, leaving everyone puzzled and bewildered.

But full marks to Neil Lennon who fitted in seamlessly as interim Manager. Arguments raged about whether he was the man for the permanent job, but no-one could argue that he had done a good job so far, mopping up the League and beating Hibs and Aberdeen to get to the final. The team was vibrant and confident.

Hearts were no pushovers, and in recent years they had done well in the Scottish Cup, winning it in in 1998, 2006 and in the game that meant so much to them when they beat Hibs 5-1 in the Scottish Cup final of 2012. Great expectations from Edinburgh! Craig Levein’s side had struggled to beat Partick Thistle in the quarter final, but had got the better of Inverness in the semi. They had finished sixth in the League which was respectable without being brilliant.

The teams on a wet, dull day at an all-ticket Hampden were as follows:

Celtic: Bain, Lustig, Simunovic, Ajer, Hayes (Bitton), Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Rogic (Ntcham), Johnston (Sinclair), Edouard

Hearts: Zlamal, Smith, Souttar, Berra, Hickey, Edwards, Haring (Bozanic), Djoum, Clare (Wighton), MacLean (Ikpeazu), Mulraney

Referee: Willie Collum

25th May 2019, Hampden,  Scottish Cup Final, Heart of Midlothian versus Celtic; Celtic players line up for a team photo

The first half was as undistinguished as first halves tend to be in Cup finals with a certain amount of “cat and mouse” tactics, and neither team looking on top, although both had a certain amount of half chances. It was early in the second half, thought when Hearts took the lead. A certain amount of dithering in the Celtic defence when a big punt up the field seemed to be called for, led to the ball coming to Ryan Edwards (whom many Hearts supporters would not have had in the team) and he put Hearts in the lead.

This immediately jolted Celtic out of their complacent lethargy, and almost immediately Brown and McGregor took control of midfield, Forrest became more active, and Odsonne Edouard who had hitherto lumbered about the field not doing very much, suddenly began to look interested. It was he who won Celtic a penalty just after the hour mark. At first sight it looked soft, but closer inspection revealed that Willie Collum had got it right and that there was contact. It was still an unnecessary penalty for the goalkeeper to give away, but Edouard scored from the spot even though goalkeeper Zlamal got a hand to it.

Celtic’s tails were now up, and it was no surprise when they went ahead late in the game. It was classic example of how to score a one-on-one. A powerful header from Jozo Simunovic was well read by Odsonne Edouard who timed his run to beat offside, then did what one should always do and kicked the ball just once, at the edge of the box over the head of the advancing goalkeeper. It was a wonderful goal.

Hearts now knew that the game was up, and although they had a certain amount of territorial pressure, Celtic finished the better team to win the game 2-1. An exultant crowd, 39 Scottish Cups, and nine domestic trophies in a row. What on earth Brendan Rodgers thinking about to turn his back on all that?

In the immediate aftermath, Neil Lennon was given the job of Manager on a permanent basis. It was maybe not the best decision, but no-one could predict just exactly what the next year was going to bring to the word. The next Scottish Cup final would be played for by exactly the same two sides as this one… but the circumstances were to be unbelievably different.

David Potter

Matthew Marr’s debut Celtic book – The Bould Bhoys! Glory to their name – is out on 24 March on Celtic Star Books

Pushing the launch of Matthew Marr’s debut Celtic book – ‘The BOULD BHOYS – Glory to their name’ back a week to Friday 24 March. Thanks to everyone who has ordered since we announced the book last night via an interview with the author. Please note that all pre-ordered books will be personally signed by Matthew Marr and you can order below if you’d like a signed copy posted out to you 24 March.

READ THIS...‘The Bould Bhoys – Glory to their name’ by Matthew Marr

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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