Celtic League Cup winning extras: argy-bargy in posh seats, Kyogo not Larsson level but Larsson-like and Postecoglou larging it on lap of honour

There were some intriguing takeaways as Celtic edged out Hibs 2-1 in seesaw second half of the Premier Sports Cup final at Hampden.

Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi may not be the new Henrik Larsson, with such a status impossible, but he is certainly exhibiting Larsson-like matchwinning traits - as he did with his scoring double that made him the man to turn the Premier Sports Cup final the way of Ange Postecoglou's men. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi may not be the new Henrik Larsson, with such a status impossible, but he is certainly exhibiting Larsson-like matchwinning traits - as he did with his scoring double that made him the man to turn the Premier Sports Cup final the way of Ange Postecoglou's men. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Man of the match

Former Celtic striker John Hartson the other week baulked at some early comparisons being made over the impact Kyogo Furuhashi is having on his old club and the remarkable influence his treasured team-mate Henrik Larsson had on it. He pointed to the Swedish phenomenon’s 315 goals in shooting down such suggestions. Understandably so. It is doubtful there will ever be another performer at Celtic who matches Larsson’s astonishing, and unerring, excellence over so lengthy a spell as the seven years the striker elevated the Scottish game.

Yet, the application, appetite and exquisite finishing Furuhashi is exhibiting in Celtic colours is Larsson-like. How the Japanese striker shook off a hamstring strain to stamp his name all over his first Hampden showpiece was straight out of the Larsson playbook, as was the glorious nature of his two lethal, and dazzling, finishes that settled the Premier Sports Cup final in his team’s favour. Furuhashi is proving time and again that he certainly has Larsson’s talismanic properties in Celtic colours.

Moreover, the Larsson that Hartson knew from the Welshman pitching up at Glasgow’s east end in the summer of 2001 was the fully matured, magnificent version. Larsson’s first season on arriving from Feyenoord four years earlier as a 26-year-old - the age of Furuhashi now - involved a little polishing. He netted 19 goals in his debut campaign as he helped Celtic to a league and League Cup double. It wasn’t until his second campaign he truly kicked on as a consistently goal-feasting forward, helped by a first hat-trick. Furuhashi already has 16 goals over only half of his first Celtic season…which he set in motion with a hat-trick inside his early weeks.

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Turning point

Those of a Hibs persuasion will say, in exasperated fashion, that the key moment in the final came with their team being denied a penalty for Carl Starfelt’s two-hands nudge on Ryan Porteous in the final, frantic minutes. Yet, this was less of a push than suffered by Celtic’s Greg Taylor in the Hibs box in the opening period. Instead, what prevented the valiant efforts of caretaker David Gray’s team not earning a trophy-winning shot in extra-time was deadlock breaker Paul Hanlon blazing the ball wide with the goal gaping as his team had Celtic on the rack towards the close.

Letdown

You expect a degree of decorum in the hospitality seats situated behind the press area at Hampden. Instead, in the west section housing Hibs supporters, an air of menace descended as the final bubbled up. A pocket of Celtic fans had purchased packages in the area and as the two teams swapped goals inside a minute at the beginning of the second period, they goaded the followers of the Leith club over the quickfire equaliser for their team. A shouting match ensued that gave way to one well-oiled patron making the slit throat gesture to another, with two would-be combatants going nose-to-nose. Stewards were forced to step in and bark at the Celtic supporters who had somehow slipped behind enemy lines that they should remember themselves while sitting in a Hibs area. Tensions, though, were never entirely quelled.

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Referee watch

It doesn’t fit the wearying, conspiratorial narrative of the Celtic support over supposedly Rangers-centric referee John Beaton, but in failing to punish penalty box pushes on Greg Taylor and Ryan Porteous in either half, the official showed he favoured neither side. It was perplexing he did not book Lewis Stevenson for wiping out Liel Abada in the opening minutes before brandishing yellow for far less later on, but in the main Beaton had a decent day and is a decent referee - for all that Paul McGinn called him and his team of officials “inept” over the perceived penalty injustice.

Gave us a giggle

Managers forever like to say how successful days for their teams are not about them. Ange Postecoglou hasn’t been averse to that line. It kinda conflicted with the scene that developed as his Celtic squad paraded the League Cup spoils that landed him a first trophy only six months into his tenure in Scotland. Initially walking behind his players as they strolled round to show off the silverware and share the joy with fans, a flick seemed to be switched when he gave in to the demand of captain Callum McGregor that he come forward and take possession of the trophy, and accept the accolades from those celebrating in the stands. The Australian developed one almighty taste for such celebrations, seeming to conduct crescendo after crescendo of roars in raising and lowering the trophy for what then seemed about three quarters of the lap of honour.

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