It was plainly obvious to everyone in the ground and to those watching at home on the telly that Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon was not happy with Ross County’s second goal.
Gordon raced out of his box to furiously confront referee Craig Thomson after Paul Quinn’s header nestled in the net and, unsurprisingly, he was booked for his outburst.
The 33-year-old elaborated to the media afterwards, complaining that Ross County striker Alex Schalk had been holding on to him at the corner and preventing him from getting to the ball before Quinn, or at least making an attempt to block the defender’s header. Television replays appeared to back up Gordon’s claim.
“Schalk dragged me towards the front post and it looks like it is right off the training ground,” explained the goalkeeper. “Grab the goalie, take him to the front post and we’ll deliver the ball to the back. From that point of view it has worked for them.
“It can’t be allowed otherwise I’m standing in the right half of the goal and probably save the second header. If you are allowed to rugby tackle the goalkeeper and play on then that’s a different game than what I’m used to.
“It puts us 2-1 down and we’re very annoyed in both instances that the goals have been allowed. I was talking about how difficult it is to win trebles and we turn up today, we get a few decisions against us and that’s what happens.”
Gordon also accused Schalk of being cute to win the penalty that brought about County’s first-half equaliser and led to Efe Ambrose’s dismissal.
He added: “The boy [Schalk] has gone through and he’s overrun the ball a little bit and he’s actually ended up getting something better than a goal with the sending-off and a penalty. It ends up with a goal and we’re down to ten men. I think he’s looking for it, it’s clever striking play and I think that’s exactly what he wanted and he got it.
“There wasn’t a great deal of contact but if you go down then it’s very difficult for the referee to see when he’s behind it whether there is any contact or not.
“Whether the linesman can help him out there… but certainly I didn’t think there was an awful lot in it.”
The County players, of course, were not spending too long deliberating over Thomson’s decision-making.
Quinn, who had only rejoined the Highland club from Aberdeen a few days before the semi-final, enjoyed a glorious second debut.
“I couldn’t have dreamt of it any better,” said the defender, who also scored against Celtic for the Dons in a vital Premiership match at Pittodrie earlier in the season. “We still have a long way to go to win it, but it will be a great day.
“We probably deserved it in the end and it means a lot to us, hence the celebrations at the end.
“I went to Aberdeen knowing this club would still go forward without me and I am delighted to back and looking forward.”
County goalkeeper Scott Fox – a hero after saving a Leigh Griffiths penalty that could have given Celtic a lifeline late on in the match – said: “I think the boys deserved it in the end. We stuck to our game plan despite losing an early goal and we won it in the end.
“We came down here with the belief that we can do it.
“It is massive, especially for the fans who made it down here despite the weather.”