Celtic 2-1 Hibs: How Kyogo Furuhashi's double jabbed Hibs and took Celtic to Premier Sports Cup glory

As one banner said, Omicron the Hoops. Celtic provided their fans with some more silverware to go with the tinsel in this otherwise bleak midwinter after a virtuoso display from Kyogo Furuhashi.

Celtic Captain Callum McGregor lifts the Premier Sports Cup Trophy. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic Captain Callum McGregor lifts the Premier Sports Cup Trophy. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Two sublime goals, the second a perfectly executed lob, condemned Hibs to successive Hampden final defeats. A double from Kyogo delivered sorrow, sorrow.

Time will tell whether the final should have been played at all, with coronavirus resurgent. Over 48,000 packed into Hampden and watched rapt to the end as Hibs refused to buckle. They were, though, undone by Kyogo, whose speedy recovery from injury was one Christmas miracle the team from the east could have done without.

There was certainly little wrong with the spirit of the Easter Road side, though perhaps that should be taken as read given the identity of their caretaker manager. The legend of Sir David Gray could not be burnished here but he will step down from this spell overseeing managerial duties with his reputation very much intact.

Fans at Hampden were reminded of covid-19 precautions on the big screens during the Premier Sports Cup Final. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

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Hibs fans will be alert to the desecration of a cherished memory, however. The winner was scored at the same end as Gray headed in his landmark goal in 2016. Nothing worth nothing there, perhaps. Shaun Rooney’s decisive goal for St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup final against Hibs earlier this year was scored there too.

But the way in which Kyogo then darted towards the same corner flag in a part of the stadium annexed by Gray and his mates one memorable summer’s day in 2016 must have been additionally painful to observe.

The world was a different place then. Little seems to make sense now. Hibs were doubled jabbed by the little Japanese wizard and when they did manage a booster of their own in the form of Paul Hanlon’s opener, the sense of well-being lasted only a matter of a few seconds.

Oh captain, my captain. Hanlon was involved in all the game’s major incidents, not always in a way he might have wanted.

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Hibs Caretaker Manager David Gray celebrates his side going ahead during the Premier Sports Cup Final between Celtic and Hibernian. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Like Anthony Stokes in the Scottish Cup final over five years earlier, the skipper emerged from the smoke at the same end of Hampden to briefly – very briefly – put Hibs in dreamland.

They had endured a torrid first half. The relief provided by a 15-minute interlude then gave way to utter delirium six minutes after half-time. Hibs hadn’t even needed to do much to gain the corner from which they opened the scoring. It was conceded when Carl Starfelt miscued a backheader.

Hat-trick man Martin Boyle turned goal creator with a corner that Hanlon strained every sinew to get to. Starfelt compounded his error by being out jumped although he may feel Joe Hart could have offered help by coming to collect the ball.

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Either way, Hanlon met the corner with a firm forehead. Although there was some immediate doubt about whether the ball had crossed the line before it was hooked away by a combination of Josip Juranovic and Hart, replays proved that it clearly had.

Furuhashi scored twice - immediately after Paul Hanlon's opener and then added a lobbed winner. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

There would have been goose pimples still standing to attention on Hanlon’s arms when he was suddenly tasked with doing his day job. Trying to quell the threat of Kyogo is not a chore any defender in the world would enjoy. The superb Callum McGregor picked out the forward’s run straight from the re-start and a sublime first touch took Kyogo away from Hanlon and into the clear. He slotted in at Matt Macey's near post. The appeals for offside were in vain.

Unsurprisingly, a dazed Hibs tottered for a spell. Starfelt headed wide from a corner when it seemed easier to score but Kevin Nisbet then broke through on the right of the box. His shot was saved by Hart when Josh Campbell and Jamie Murphy were ideally placed for a cutback. But at least Hibs were making a go of it at this point.

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There had been precious little danger of them doing to Celtic what they did to Rangers in the semi-final and blowing their opponents away in the opening 45 minutes. Indeed, Hibs struggled to break out of their own half.

There’s no question reputation together with timing – the game was barely three minutes old – helped Lewis Stevenson swerve a cup final booking after he upended Liel Abada. There had been three yellow cards by the end of the half and none for anything as potentially dangerous.

Hibs' Josh Campbell at full time during the Premier Sports Cup Final. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

If the tackle was designed to set the tone for an aggressive, in- your-face performance from Hibs, then, from the evidence of the opening half, it patently failed to do so.

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Celtic’s rhythm was barely disrupted by an enforced change after 26 minutes when David Turnbull pulled up with a hamstring injury. Nir Bitton replaced him and augmented the midfield though it was his partner in crime, Tom Rogic, who provided the assist for Kyogo’s second goal. Hanlon – of course – was penalised for coming into the back of Abada and the swift-thinking Rogic quickly took the kick. Kyogo did the rest with a masterful lob.

The outcome hinged on a huge moment after 89 minutes. Substitute Scott Allan lofted a ball into the box that was headed across the goalmouth by Hanlon. Nisbet was unmarked and headed towards goal only to see the ball bash back off Hart’s right-hand post. One might have expected a stramash. Instead, there was a clear opportunity for the nearest Hibs player to the ball – as many as three were in close attendance – to drive in the rebound.

Perhaps it was misfortune that Hanlon was the closest. Although he had already found his range with his head, he thumped high over the bar from eight yards with his less trusty right boot. It was the chance of all chances.

Another opportunity did present itself in the dying seconds of injury time. Ryan Porteous teed up Joe Newell whose low drive was beaten away by Hart. Hibs could not profit from the rebound nor could they profit a penalty in another when the defender was toppled by Carl Starfelt, off the ball infront of goal. Another dream had died.

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SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster saw the trophy presented to Celtic captain Callum McGregor. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
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