Kyogo v Morelos and the reasons Celtic won the League Cup Final

If Celtic’s Scottish League Cup win over theRangers was a tactical masterclass of the experienced manager over an out of his depth rookie boss, the difference between the two team’s arguably came down to the strikers both managers had at their disposal.

And in the case of Ange Postecoglou, the team ethic and work rate of the ‘outstanding’ Kyogo Furuhashi, saw the manager rewarded for his clever recruitment. Meanwhile Mick Beale will rue his inheriting of a bent out of shape huffer and puffer in the portly form of Alfredo Morelos.

Alfredo Morelos of Rangers celebrates after scoring during the Viaplay Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on February 26, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Celtic boss was quick to praise his 24-goal striker in the aftermath of a footballing lesson handed out to theRangers, and Kyogo deserved every word of praise he received from Ange Postecoglou as reported on the official club website.

“It’s invaluable to have a player who is willing to do everything in his power to help the team. It’s not just about his goals, and obviously his goals are important – the most important thing – but he just works so hard.

“And again, he’s another one who, whatever rewards he gets are hard-earned. He’s not floating about out there waiting for a chance. He’s working his socks off to do things that other strikers won’t do because he knows it’s the right thing for the team.

Kyogo is congratulated by his teammates at Hampden. Photo Angus Johnston for The Celtic Star

“But I think players at this football club are often measured by how they perform on the biggest of stages and he delivers again. And you look at him, the size he is and the players he’s up against, and he doesn’t shirk any of it. He puts the opposition under pressure, he’s so clever with his movement and he wants to be front and centre when the opportunity’s there.

“He was outstanding today and he’s been outstanding from the moment he’s joined our football club.”

Kyogo in action in the League Cup Final. Photo Angus Johnston for The Celtic Star

Compare and contrast that to theRangers Alfredo Morelos. Who despite scoring a scrappy goal to claw the Ibrox side back into the game, limited theRangers tactical options throughout the match and seemed to care little for any instruction to defend from the front.

Morelos lack of mobility, work rate and speed forced theRangers to play passes forward to feet, without the threat of the pace in behind which Kyogo offers Celtic as a threatening out ball. Meaning Celtic could focus on pushing a high line, safe in the knowledge there was nothing to hurt Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt centrally.

Alfredo Morelos of Rangers celebrates after scoring during the Viaplay Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on February 26, 2023 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Meanwhile Morelos inability to press in a coherent manner afforded Celtic the opportunity to play through theRangers ineffective press very effectively, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.  

And with Greg Taylor and Ally Johnston comfortably controlling the likes of Ryan Kent and the mouthy Fashion Sakala – who proved he can talk the talk, but walking the walk is more of a struggle – on the wings, Celtic’s defence could focus on defending cross balls, something the central defensive partnership coped admirably well with and often do.

Morelos of course chucked another faux strop as he was substituted at Hampden, but surely much of that will be down to his own frustrations with yet another out-of-shape performance in a blue jersey than the receiving of a hook from his rookie boss, which was long overdue.

This morning the post-mortem will begin at Ibrox. And if they didn’t know it before, they will certainly know it now. Having Alfredo Morelos in your team may well offer you a striker with a poacher’s instinct, but strikers with only that in their locker are ten a penny across every league in Europe.

Strikers however, who sacrifice personal glory for a team ethic are much harder to come across – much like finding a supporter of theRangers this afternoon who believes Alfredo Morelos is anything close to the standard Celtic have in the shape of the outstanding Kyogo Furuhashi.

Niall J

Kyogo with the cup. Photo Kenny Ramsay

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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