Friday 24 November 2017

Celtic suffer shock League Cup semi-final defeat against Ross County

Celtic manager Ronny Deila
Celtic manager Ronny Deila

Ronnie Esplin

Ross County boss Jim McIntyre feared a thrashing by Celtic after the Hoops took a first-minute lead in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park before the Staggies came back to win 3-1.

Winger Gary Mackay-Steven scored before a minute had elapsed and McIntyre thought of the 8-1 hammering Ronny Deila's men had handed out to Hamilton in the Ladbrokes Premiership recently.

As the Highland club wobbled, goalkeeper Scott Fox had a couple of saves before Hoops defender Efe Ambrose was sent off by referee Craig Thomson in the 13th minute for fouling striker Alex Schalk in the box.

Martin Woods levelled from the penalty spot and it turned out to be the turning point in the game as Celtic's hopes of a treble ended.

Staggies defender Paul Quinn, making his second debut for County after joining last week following his release from Aberdeen, headed the underdogs into the lead three minutes after the interval with Schalk adding a third in the 63rd minute with a thunderous drive.

Fox saved a Leigh Griffiths penalty as the Staggies battled with some determination for their place in the March 13 final against Hibernian.

Asked how he felt about losing such an early goal, an "absolutely delighted" McIntyre said: "You think it this is going to be a long day, without a shadow of doubt. We were set up to be stiff and hard to break down and it was a really poor goal we gave away.

"You know you need to give nothing away in the next 10 minutes.

"A combination of desperate defending and also our goalkeeper had to make a couple of saves, because if it goes two and three, you seen what happened to Hamilton in the league.

"Celtic are capable of that on their day and we had to ride that spell out.

"For the next 10 minutes we had to hang in there and Fox had to make a couple of saves, then we got a wee bit of belief back by making passes and we got a shot at goal which let us know we are in the semi-final and we need to have a go.

"And scoring after 13 minutes was crucial. Obviously it was a bonus that it was a last man and a red card so that let us settle down again.

"I felt we had the toughest task in the two semi-finals, taking on the champions and we got off to the worst possible start.

"It was a fantastic result, I haven't had time to think where it ranks but it will mean a lot more if we go on and win it."

Press Association

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