‘Getting a result’ has always been key in association football, particularly when playing in cup competitions. Thankfully for Celtic, they managed to secure that on Saturday, though only just.

After a thrilling Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden against Aberdeen, Brendan Rodgers’ side emerged victorious, winning 6-5 on penalties after playing out 120 minutes of football which ended in a 3-3 draw. However, the scoreline only tells half the story as Celtic toiled in this game, particularly at the start and end of the match in Scotland’s National Stadium. Despite scoring some impressive goals of their own, the holders showed signs of real weakness, particularly in defence.

Using annotated Wyscout stills, The Celtic Way illustrates both the good and the bad of Saturday’s game for the winners, who will face Rangers in the final on May 25…

The Good

Nicolas Kuhn goal (21’)

Celtic were toiling in this match during its infancy and found themselves behind for a total of 19 minutes before drawing the game level. Making his Hampden debut, Nicolas Kuhn scored his first goal at the National Stadium, though he has his forward partner to thank for finding the ball in this position.

The attack started midway through the Aberdeen half, as central defender Angus MacDonald had the ball at his feet with time to spare. Sensing a potential opportunity, Kyogo Furuhashi pressed the England defender and picked his pockets, turning over the ball in Celtic’s favour in the process. Notice the position of Kuhn just above Kyogo, as he darted forward to provide an alternative option for the striker. This move would prove beneficial, as it would fall to him just a couple of seconds later…

A few seconds later, Kyogo had dribbled with the ball into a good position to shoot. To his credit, Gartenmann did not give up on his defensive duties despite his teammate being dispossessed and tracked back to fling his body in front of the shot. If the Japan striker had been quicker with his finishing, then he would have been on the scoresheet, but his slow reactions prevented him from earning another goal at Hampden. Luckily, he would be bailed out by his right-winger, who anticipated Gartenmann’s block falling to him.

With Kelle Roos out of position due to his attempt at stopping Kyogo’s strike – which his defender did – Kuhn had an open goal to aim for when the ball ricocheted to the Germany winger. The calmest man in Hampden at that point, Kuhn side-footed the ball past Aberdeen’s watching defence and into their net, with the holders back on level terms thanks to their January signing stepping up.

James Forrest goal (63’)

Brought on as a 62nd-minute substitute in place of the struggling Yang Hyun-jun, James Forrest had a job to do on the left wing, both in providing an attacking threat that was not previously there and by taking better care of the ball in possession.

Receiving the ball in Aberdeen’s half, Forrest immediately had his head up and was looking to make something happen in an attacking sense. Marked by Dante Polvara, immediately the American looked to be on the back foot, as Forrest began to motor into the final third. Though he had options in the form of O’Riley and Kuhn, the 32-year-old decided to go it alone…

Despite Aberdeen trying their best to close down Celtic’s number 49, they could not get near the winger. After taking a few strides to the edge of the box, Forrest decided to let rip, which evaded all of the bodies in and around the area and into the left-hand corner of Roos’ net, leaving the Dutch goalkeeper with no chance once again. A strike that lacked in power but made up for that in accuracy, Forrest’s impact was a big one, that put Celtic in the lead for the first time in the contest.

Matt O’Riley goal (105+1’)

Forrest’s goal did not turn out to be the winner on the day (We’ll touch on why later), thus the game went to extra time after 90 minutes. Easily the most well-worked goal out of the three Celtic managed on the day, this was a treat for the eyes to witness, both in person at the stadium and through a television screen.

Like a lot of Celtic’s goals over the past few years, Cameron Carter-Vickers was key to starting the move. In possession, he directed the ball out to Forrest, who was waiting on an opportunity to attack the Aberdeen defence once again. Clock the positions of Alistair Johnston and O’Riley below the winger, as both will come into play very soon in this move. The pass was a good one and found Forrest, who was given a licence to go forward…

The dangerous winger took a touch to set himself, before immediately looking to pass the ball down the flank in the direction of Johnston at right-back. Jack MacKenzie was the unfortunate individual in this position, as his side was about to be attacked speedily by the right-sided duo. O’Riley was also on the move again, as he could sense an opening coming of Johnston was given an opportunity to work the ball into the box. Thankfully, the intricate pass was an accurate one, too, with the Canadian full-back happy to accept Forrest’s distribution at the byline.

A couple of seconds later, Johnston had worked his way into the box following Forrest’s pass to him. Not for the first time this season, the right-back was arguably Celtic’s most dangerous wide player at points in this game, with his direct approach causing Aberdeen all sorts of problems. He had time and space after working his way into their box, with several keen bodies in and around the area looking to get on the end of his inevitable delivery. Luis Palma, Adam Idah, Paulo Bernardo and O’Riley had made the forward run, yet it was the latter that would benefit from this cross…

Johnston’s cross was a cutback – not unlike the kind Kieran Tierney used to execute on the opposite side – with the delivery evading those directly in front of the ball and finding O’Riley, who had struggled in the game up to this point. Though this may look like a relatively easy finish from this point, this is only because of the ease at which the midfielder picked his spot. After being found by the cutback, O’Riley took a touch before expertly directing his shot in the top left-hand corner of Roos’ goal, in what was a goal packed with moments of both individual quality and teamwork between players linking up together.

A stunning goal, one worthy of winning a game, though we all know that was not the case, as Aberdeen struck back before extra time was up. Before we get to that concession, we need to go back to the very start, as for every bit of good play by Celtic, there was an error that overshadowed their positive work, particularly in the defensive areas…

The Bad

Bojan Miovski goal (2’)

This is not how you start a game of football. Not even two minutes were on the clock and Celtic had gone a goal down to Aberdeen, through their talismanic forward figure in Bojan Miovski.

Nicky Devlin had worked the ball from defence to midfield, which was picked up by Leighton Clarkson in Celtic’s half. Allowed to turn, the midfielder looked to get the ball out of his feet quickly and spotted a gap in between Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales, which he used to his advantage. Miovski – marked by the USA defender – peeled off of his man and looked to meet Clarkson’s threaded pass, which he did.

You cannot give Miovski any space or opportunity to work with, or the North Macedonian will punish you, which is what he did. Clarkson’s pass found the striker, and Miovski was in on goal. Despite Joe Hart getting a touch on his strike, the shot was too strong and made its way into the back of Celtic’s net. A horror start for Rodgers’ team, with Scales and Carter-Vickers both looking shellshocked at what had just transpired. The former – a weak link throughout – was lagging behind thanks to Clarkson’s pass, whilst the latter could not stop Miovski from opening the scoring, alongside a backtracking Johnston.

Ester Sokler goal (90’)

Just when it looked like Celtic were going to hang on to their 2-1 lead, upstepped Aberdeen to throw a spanner in the works in the shape of Junior Hoilett and Ester Sokler. With injury time fast approaching and a place in the final up for grabs, the trailing side made it an even game in the last minute of normal time.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, from a player who has been off-form for a while now. Luis Palma – brought on late for Kuhn – had the chance to go on the break or run the clock down, though the Honduras international managed to do neither with a weak pass straight into the path of Gartenmann. A costly error, which put his side under severe pressure heading into the final minutes of the game in the form of an Aberdeen break.

Though not visible in the still, Gartenmann’s target when picking up the loose pass from Palma was Hoilett, the former QPR winger. Taking a moment to steady himself before spreading the play out wide with a cross, the Dane’s cross was perfectly executed, with the defender finding his target on the wing with ease, and uncontested, too.

Hoilett was now in a 1v1 battle with Johnston after working his way into the Celtic penalty area. This Canadian battle was to be won by the attacker, though, and the winger managed to find separation between himself and his international teammate by going on the outside to the byline, which seemed to surprise the right-back. Now with half a yard of space, the forward expertly delivered an accurate and well-weighted cross into the path of the oncoming Sokler, who was on the move…

Scales does not cover himself in glory here – and it won’t be the last time we utter this remark, either – as the Irishman failed to judge the flight of the cross, leaving his marker Sokler completely free in the box. No blame will be attributed to Hart here, as despite being beaten at his near post, it was a difficult chance to save due to the close proximity of the header to the veteran goalkeeper.

Angus MacDonald goal (119’)

No, you’re not seeing double. MacDonald’s late header in the 119th minute was a carbon copy of the goal Celtic conceded around 30 minutes earlier, from the same side – and provider - to the same type of shot (a header).

The one difference was the way in which Hoilett delivered the ball, as he cut inside before sending the ball into the exact same area as before. Despite Johnston standing him up, the winger had too much space and time, giving him a good chance of recreating the kind of ball he managed in normal time.

Once again, Scales was caught out with a long ball over the top, costing his team another goal in the process. Losing his marker – this time MacDonald – the defender headed the ball into the back of Hart’s net. Again, not a lot that Hart could do here, as his fellow defenders were lost at sea with one ball into the box. A good contact was made by the Englishman, though an inquest will have to be made by Rodgers and his coaches as Celtic were undone by the same ball twice in half an hour of play.


Of course - despite the many negatives that spoiled their good outfield play on the day - Celtic did manage to win this eventful game of football, thanks to scoring six of their seven penalty kicks. Despite Hart missing his spot-kick, he saved Killian Phillips’ penalty in sudden death ensuring a trip back to the National Stadium for the veteran keeper, his manager and his teammates on May 25.

Their great rivals Rangers await them, after their 2-0 defeat of Hearts yesterday afternoon. One would assume they need to be better defensively if they are to lift the famous trophy for the 42nd time in just over a month's time.

Plenty for Rodgers to ponder, but an easier task to undertake, knowing his side bettered their opponents at the end of this match, despite their frailties at the back.