Kyogo Furuhashi was Celtic’s hero as the Japanese international’s double won the Scottish League Cup on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Old Firm rivals Rangers at Hampden.
Furuhashi also scored twice in last year’s final and took his tally for the season to 24 with two close range finishes either side of half-time.
Watch the world’s best footballers every week with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. LIVE coverage from Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Carabao Cup, EFL & SPFL. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Alfredo Morelos pulled a goal back 26 minutes from time but Rangers succumbed to a first defeat since Michael Beale replaced Giovanni van Bronckhorst as manager in November.
Victory could be the first of a domestic treble for Ange Postecoglou’s men as they lead Rangers by nine points at the top of the Scottish Premiership and are into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.
Postecoglou was delighted with the win and believes it’s just rewards for his team putting in the hard yards in training every day.
“We’ve worked awfully hard for a very long time and part of the process of working hard is to get rewarded for it at some point so that you can keep working hard, and the boys got the reward today, which I thought was well-deserved for them.
“You know what it means for our supporters, so it was a great day for the football club.’
Celtic skipper Callum McGregor reserved special praise for Furuhashi’s contribution.
“He’s a special player,” McGregor said.
“It means the world to me. Time after time, you’re tasked to win at this club.”
Furuhashi missed his first couple of chance of the game as Allan McGregor rushed from his line to block before Celtic’s talisman headed a glorious opportunity over.
However, he could not miss a minute before half-time as Daizen Maeda flicked on Greg Taylor’s cross and Furuhashi was unmarked to tap in from point-blank range.
A fine team move set up his second as Reo Hatate burst into the Rangers box and squared for his compatriot to force the ball home 11 minutes into the second half.
At that point the only doubt over the outcome seemed to be Celtic’s margin of victory.
But Rangers rallied after Morelos’ strike had too much power for Joe Hart when Celtic failed to clear a free-kick.
Beale’s men then surged forward in search of an equaliser to take the game to extra time.
But it was the Hoops who had the better chances to seal the trophy in the closing stages as McGregor denied Matt O’Riley and Sead Haksabanovic fired wide.
Originally published as ‘We’ve worked awfully hard’: Ange ecstatic as Celtic beat Rangers in Scottish League Cup final