Ange Postecoglou urges Celtic players to use Hampden hurt to fuel Scottish Premiership title charge


Ange Postecoglou says Celtic must use their Hampden heartache to fuel a charge towards the Premiership title.

The Parkhead manager was left deflated after his team’s Scottish Cup semi-final sickener.

Postecoglou’s men were heading into the Final after taking the lead through Greg Taylor’s strike just after the hour.

However, the Aussie’s team wilted as they approached the finishing line and were left shattered as Carl Starfelt’s own goal sealed their fate in extra time.

Postecoglou’s team had won the Premier Sports Cup at Hampden and were hoping for a Treble.

But, although the clean sweep is now off the table, the boss believes the bitter setback must be charged into motivation to push towards the title, starting on Sunday away at Ross County.

Celtic have a six-point lead with five games to go in the flag race and he insists it cannot blow the bid off course.

Postecoglou said: “We have had to be resilient all year and this is another challenge for us.

“We are disappointed we didn’t get to another ending, disappointed for our fans.

“But, irrespective of what happened, we have five games to concentrate on winning the league, starting next week.

“We need to make sure that we use this disappointment to fuel our endeavors in this next series of games.

“It was a typical semi-final, a very tight game between both teams and it was just decided by moments.



Rangers go 2-1 up in extra-time

“We had our moments and they had theirs. Unfortunately they are the ones who got over the line.”

Celtic failed to hit their normal high standards in the last-four epic, but Postecoglou said: “It is just the nature of cup football, a semi-final.

“They are never going to be open games, players know what is at stake, they know the consequences of actions.

“It’s human nature to feel the reaction, to take the consequences in terms of being knocked out of the competition, so that tends to mean the players are a little more conservative in terms of the way we play our football, the way we press them , the things you have freedom to do in a league game.

“I didn’t feel it was a game where we were out of control. Maybe in extra time, we lost our way a little bit.

“It wasn’t an open game, we just had to stay disciplined in our approach and wait for our moments and when they came we had to capitalize. We did on one occasion, but not another and in extra time they capitalized on theirs.”

Celtic had a glorious chance to put the game to bed when, after Taylor’s opener, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers hit the crossbar with a golden opportunity to double the advantage.

Postecoglou said: “That’s how these games are usually decided when you have two strong teams.

“We did have that opportunity to go 2-0 up, but it wasn’t taken and they went up the other end and scored.

“Even then, there were moments we could have done a little bit better with, but in the end, they took their moment in extra time and won.”

Despite Rangers having gone through 120 minutes against Braga just four days prior to Hampden, they were able to match Celtic’s running power until the end.

Postecoglou said: “I wouldn’t make too much of that stuff. At the end of the day, it’s two teams giving everything right until the final minute.

“There’s so much at stake. The 28, 29, 30 players that came on today gave everything they could. It’s what you expect in this kind of game.”

To compound the disappointment, Liel Abada, Greg Taylor and Josip Juranovic were forced off, while Carter-Vickers was limping in the final stages.

Postecoglou eyed the injury issues and said: “Just because they gave everything. Liel hasn’t played a lot, so we knew, particularly in a game like this, he would only get to the hour mark.

“All the players gave everything, there was nothing more. We had some strength off the bench, particularly with the first set of subs.

“They made a difference, gave us some more energy going forward. I haven’t spoken to the medical crew yet.”




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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