Celtic finished with 10 men as they were trounced 3-1 in the Semi Finals of the League Cup by Ross County at Hampden.
The result leaves the future of Ronny Deila in serious doubt, in spite of some poor refereeing decisions affecting the outcome of the match.
It took a matter of 30 seconds for the second League Cup Semi Final to kick into life.
Celtic hit the Staggies on the counter after a lovely through ball from McGregor cut the County defence open, leaving Griffiths with acres of space to square the ball to Mackay Steven who couldn’t miss from 3 yards out.
The Hoops almost doubled their lead minutes later, when Efe Ambrose miraculously missed two free headers from successive corners.
In spite of early Celtic dominance, County looked dangerous on the counter. An excellent run and strike from 25 yards out forced Craig Gordon into action for the first time, as he neatly pushed the ball out for the corner.
Celtic continued to press and harry the Highland side, and if it weren’t for a poor Griffiths touch inside the box, he would have been clean through on goal.
Shortly after the 10 minute mark, Celtic glee turned to misery. Another Staggies counter culminated in a through ball behind the Celtic defence. Ambrose turned like Dan Majstorovic on a 2 week bender in Ibiza, allowing the County attacker to nip in front of him before bringing him down. Penalty and red card for Ambrose. Woods emphatically sent Gordon the wrong way with the resultant penalty.
Definite contact from Efe, regardless of whether he meant it or not. No complaints.
McGregor made way for debut bhoy Sviatchenko to fill the gap in the back four.
Deila’s men initially coped well with the dismissal, as Armstrong’s curling effort from distance scraped the bar on its way over.
County looked to make their man advantage count, but they were unable to penetrate the resolute Hoops defence.
The next Celtic chance came from a dangerous Armstrong corner in the 40th minute, which was flicked on into the path of Bitton, whose first touch was mopped up by the county keeper.
Celtic had little time to settle into the 2nd half before County took the lead. A Staggies’ corner was turned back into the box at the back post before Paul Quinn headed home from a few yards out.
Once again despicable set piece defending from the Bhoys, but there was a blatant foul on Craig Gordon as he was held back and prevented from reaching the corner. Poor decision from referee Thomson.
Deila’s men looked to hit back immediately, but were restricted to strikes from distance. Armstrong’s wayward effort from 30 yards summed up the Hoops’ day.
10 minutes later The Staggies put the final nail in the Celtic coffin. Lustig, who was lightyears out of position, failed to get on the end of a County through ball, leaving Woods to smash the ball passed Gordon in the Celtic goal to put County 3-1 up.
In a bid to get back in the game, Ronny decided to astonishingly replace Nir Bitton with the barely fit defensive midfielder Scott Brown INSTEAD of the abysmal Stefan Johansen. All hope had truly vanished.
Nontheless, Celtic were handed a golden opportunity on a plate after Thomson awarded a penalty to the Hoops after handball from a Staggies defender in the box. Griffiths, with all the composure of a gorilla, smashed the ball straight at Fox who easily saved the penalty. Shocking.
Fortunately, the resulting glorious opportunity from the County counter was brilliantly saved by Gordon.
Celtic continued to push for a second goal, and were awarded with their efforts after County began to tire. And, as was the way of the day, Celtic’s best chance was turned over the bar by Fox afters Griffiths managed to work space for a drilled effort on the edge of the box.
The game petered out without further incident. 3-1 Ross County.
In spite of dodgy refereeing decisions, its important to remember teams have won with 10 men in the past. However, Ronny’s tactical naivety has once again (Malmo, Maribor, Molde, Fenerbahce, Ajax et al) resulted in a team with 1/50th of our budget rinsing us.
I normally provide more of an analysis, but I think the following suffices.
Ronny, no apologies, get out now.