Celtic eased to a comfortable 3-0 win over Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup final as Brendan Rodgers claimed his first piece of silverware as Hoops boss.
Here are the five things we learned from the Hampden clash:
Derek McInnes is sick of the sight of Tom Rogic
Having twice grabbed victories over Celtic last season, Aberdeen were looking to cause them problems again this term. But in the teams’ three meetings so far it has barely been a contest, with Australian attacker Rogic encapsulating the quality gap the Dons are struggling to bridge after scoring in each of his side’s victories this term. The good news for McInnes is that he does not have to see the Hoops ace again until Aberdeen travel to Celtic Park on February 1.
Aberdeen played with fire and got burned
Instead of setting up defensively or throwing Celtic a tactical curveball, Aberdeen opted to go 4-2-3-1 and match up man for man with their much fancied opponents. In one respect the tactic worked, as Aberdeen were able to battle for possession in a more effective manner than they were able to in the recent league meeting between the sides at Pittodrie. However, the problem with such a gameplan is that it places greater emphasis on players to win the individual battles, which is not what occurred.
For Celtic’s opener, Graeme Shinnie, unsure of whether to stick to Rogic or keep the defensive shape with Andy Considine out of position, didn’t get tight to the Celtic midfielder. It allowed the Australian to get the ball on to his stronger left foot and he planted a terrific finish into the bottom corner. For the second goal they were exposed when Kenny McLean followed a run out wide, leaving a massive gap in the centre of the park for James Forrest to drive into.
A batch of Hoops players owe a debt of gratitude to Rodgers
With Ronny Deila in charge, there was large chunk of the Celtic squad who were in danger of seeing their careers at a major club fritter away. But former Liverpool boss Rodgers has not only transformed the fortunes of his team but also individuals such as Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong and Forrest, with the latter netting Celtic’s second goal en route to winning the final’s man-of-the-match award. They should thank their lucky stars he took the Parkhead job when he did.
James Maddison can be too eager to impress
The on-loan Norwich playmaker has provided Aberdeen with a spark this season with his mix of clever footwork and set-piece genius. But his desperation to make an impact in the Hampden showdown appeared to cloud his judgement. He had the opportunity to slip in Adam Rooney early in the first half but went alone and wasted the chance. It proved a costly mistake as Rogic fired his side in front when Celtic swiftly broke upfield.
Hampden chiefs have still not sorted their dodgy pitch
The surface at the National Stadium has been relaid three times during 2016 but the patch-up job has done little to improve the quality of the surface. The players on both sides spent as much time worrying about keeping their footing as they did about what their opponents were up to. The Arctic conditions over the past week have not helped but the turf remains well short of the standard it should be for this kind of showpiece occasion.