Practice makes Perfect, Celtic ready for penalty shoot-out

“We cover for everything and penalties are something you can’t discount,” Brendan Rodgers admitted.

“Even though it’s hard to recreate that situation, I think you can practice. Walking up to the spot, putting it down and looking in the goal – your heart won’t be beating the same, but you can still have the sensation of the penalty.

“So, that’s something we will cover methodically.

“It’s been good this week. We have looked at the previous game for areas we can be better, areas they might look to exploit.

“We have looked at the detail of that and coached it through the week.

“We’ve prepared the players mentally and then we polish them up before the game.”

Hopefully we will take care of business and will not have to endure the drama of a penalty shoot against this mob again.

This was from The Celtic Star earlier in the week…

Grey skies, Ronny’s demise. Redemption just around the corner

BRENDAN RODGERS arrived at a gloriously sunny Celtic Park on 20 May 2016. The Irishman was greeted by a crowd over over 13,000 in the main stand and spilling over to the stands behind the goals. It really was a beautiful day and I was in the crowd as the spectacle grew and Brendan, supported by Leigh Griffiths, changed Celtic from that day on.

However, it was a month before that date the wheels began to move for Rodgers’ arrival at Celtic. In a complete contrast from the scenes of jubilation as Rodgers arrived and all that he has achieved in his time since, a downbeat Ronny Deila addressed the press confirming that he’d leave Celtic at the end of the season.

The decision by the Norwegian to resign came on the back of a Scottish Cup semi-final draw then losing on penalties the Championship side Rangers. Under the grey skies of Glasgow’s south side, the Premiership leaders battled their lower league opponents for a place in the Scottish Cup final as the game tumbled towards extra time. Regulation time ended 1-1 after Erik Sviatchenko’s header cancelled out Kenny Miller’s opener. The game was a mismatch as Celtic peppered the Rangers goal with 33 shots, 10 on target to Rangers’ 9 to 3. Despite this, Rangers dominated possession and Mark Warburton’s side took the lead through Barrie McKay before Tom Rogic struck to take the game to penalties. Celtic failed in their attempts to take the lead through Callum McGregor and Scott Brown in the shoot out but it would be Tom Rogic that missed the vital penalty sending Rangers to the final.

Of those to miss penalties and to suffer heartache at Hampden, McGregor, Brown and Rogic were criticised in the press after missing but the two years since Hampden have allowed redemption from that day.

Callum McGregor used Celtic’s second Scottish Cup meeting with this Rangers to dispense his revenge by curling a wonderfully worked goal into Wes Foderingham’s net. The helpless Englishman stranded as he watched McGregor’s placed shot with the inside of his left ripple the Hampden net. The goalie wisnae doin’ anything Tom, as McGregor simply passed the ball into his net.

The image of Tom Rogic distraught after blazing the ball over the bar was plastered over the newspapers and social media in the aftermath of that horrible game. However, it would soon be replaced by a truly historic image as late drama in last season’s Scottish Cup Final ensured an Invincible Treble. The Australian scored the winner last May after gliding between the Dons players and fired the ball into the net sparking unforgettable scenes. The new image of Rogic at Hampden for me is holding the badge, reeling off in celebration.

Meanwhile, since Scott Brown’s below par performance that miserable day, he has gone to another level. Dominating performances in Scotland and Europe, the midfielder has kept himself fit and maintained a stranglehold over midfields around the country. The opportunity to become the first back-to-back treble winning captain, in his testimonial season, will drive Brown further into Sunday’s game. The image of Broony wielding the Scottish Cup last season, sandwiched in between two league cup triumphs is synonymous with the club under Brendan Rodgers. Success on and off the park.

Since that horrible day in April 2016, Celtic have gone from strength to strength as Rodgers’ revolution has seen 4 trophies, a 69 game unbeaten run, an Invincible season and two Champions League campaigns. The heartache of Hampden, has been replaced by joyous memories as Celtic have been victories on their last six visits to the national stadium, including two semi final victories over Rangers. The 2016 Scottish Cup no longer is remembered for that painful defeat, it is remembered for Hibs remarkable win in injury time.

And Hibs remain the last side in Scottish football to (outside of Celtic) have won a major honour. Since Brendan arrived we have won 4 from 4 with a fifth one win away – for 7 in a row, and the Cup semi-final this weekend.

So that April day may have been the end of road Ronny Deila at Celtic but it led to the appointment of Brendan Rodgers. The pain on the day was a worthy sacrifice for the success we’ve enjoyed since. Brendan has taken Celtic to Hampden on six occasions since that day and won them all – Sunday can be another Magnificent Seven…

Lewis Faulds

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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