Football Features

Winners and losers as Celtic beat Hearts to complete historic treble treble

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:19, 25 May 2019

Celtic won the Scottish Cup for the third year in a row, after beating Hearts 2-1 at Hampden Park.

Hearts took the lead through Ryan Edwards shortly after half-time but it would last less than 10 minutes, with Odsonne Edouard equalising from the penalty spot.

And Edouard was the man to win it for Celtic in the final 10 minutes, securing the treble treble for Neil Lennon’s side.

But who were the key winners and losers?

Winner: Odsonne Edouard

After an hour of the Scottish Cup final, Celtic needed something special from one of their players to get them back into the game and keep their treble treble dreams in tact. That man was Odsonne Edouard.

The Frenchman had spurned a couple of good early chances for Celtic, either seeing his efforts saved by Zdenek Zlamal or stopped with good defending. But the moment that changed everything came in the 61st minute.

Running into the box, Edouard showed good feet to lure in a joint-tackle from Zlamal and Christophe Berra, earning his side a penalty. The Frenchman stepped up to take the spot kick, and buried it into the bottom left corner, his shot proving just too powerful for the goalkeeper.

Once again the game seemed to be going away from Edouard, but in reality he was just sitting, waiting for a mistake – as if he knew one was coming. And he was right.

With less than 10 minutes to go, Celtic won the ball in midfield and it moved towards the Hearts defence. Rather than dropping deep in an attempt to challenge for the ball, Edouard was sitting in a space left by Berra who had move forward.

His reading of the game meant Edouard was clean through once the ball had gone past Berra, with the Frenchman calmly finishing over the advancing Zlamal – despite the pressure of everything.

Callum McGregor may have swept up at the Celtic Player of the Year awards, but he might have to share those trophies with Edouard.

Loser: Craig Levein

Life’s not fair.

For some, football is a happy break, but that’s not the case for Craig Levein.

The Scot started his playing career in 1981 with Cowdenbeath, eventually spending 14 years at Hearts before retiring in 1997. Levein immediately moved into management with Cowdenbeath, and spells with Hearts, Leicester City, Raith Rovers, Dundee United, Scotland and Hearts again have followed.

But in his 38-year career, as both a player and manager, Levein is yet to taste success. Not one single piece of silverware has come his way.

As a player, he finished runner-up with Hearts in the 1986 Scottish Cup final, and repeated the feat as a manager with Dundee United in 2008.

And when Edwards put Hearts ahead just after half-time, some part of Levein must have been thinking his luck was finally changing. But, once again, it was not to be and another Scottish Cup runners-up medal came his way.

Maybe next year, Craig?

Winner: Aaron Hickey

When Hearts were last in the Scottish Cup final, on May 19, 2012, Aaron Hickey was nine years old, probably planning his 10th birthday party. Fast forward seven years, and Hickey was starting in the Scottish Cup final, 16 days before his 17th birthday.

The 16-year-old had only made his Hearts first-team debut a few weeks earlier, and had 118 minutes under his belt. But there he was, in the starting XI against all-conquering Celtic as he had the previous week in the league.

Speaking before the game, Hearts manager Craig Levein admitted Hickey’s inclusion was only due to Ben Garuccio’s injury, but the teenager proved himself more than capable of filling in.

Hickey providing tough opposition for Mikael Lustig and James Forrest down Celtic’s left-hand side, both in defence and attack, also linking up well with Jake Mulraney. The 16-year-old was playing with confidence beyond his years and didn’t shy away from testing Scott Bain from distance, forcing the Celtic goalkeeper to make a save.

He even played a part in the opening goal, bursting forward from the left, playing in Djoum whose shot found its way to Sean Clare before Edwards finished.

It wasn’t a perfect performance, understandably, but the future is bright for Hearts and Scotland.

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Loser: Christophe Berra

For the large part of the Scottish Cup final, Hearts were equals with Celtic, giving their opponents serious problems. No one would have argued if they had gone on to win the cup, but in the end they were just the latest victims of Celtic’s steamroller.

And in reality, it came from two minor lapses from club captain Christophe Berra.

The Edinburgh-born centre-back is enjoying his second spell with Hearts, having come through the club’s academy, and admitted pre-match that a win would be the best moment of his career.

He said: “I have had some big games in my career, played obviously with my national team but I think this would be the highlight.

“I have come back to Scotland, to Edinburgh, to my home team and I don’t think there would be a better occasion or highlight of my career than lifting the trophy with Hearts.

“I am not getting any younger so there won’t be as many opportunities in the next few years although hopefully there will be.”

But in the end, he will be looking back at what could have been, reviewing the minor moments which shaped Hearts’ defeat.

The first came as a result of poor communication with goalkeeper Zlamal, as both combined to tackle Edouard, resulting in a penalty being awarded. Hearts’ lead was erased.

And in what proved to be the killer moment, Berra was caught short with Edouard lurking, giving Celtic a lead they would not surrender.

Winner: Ryan Edwards

Prior to Saturday’s 2019 final, Celtic had been dominators of the Scottish Cup – not since the semi-finals of 2016 had Celtic tasted defeat. But even more remarkable, the Bhoys hadn’t conceded a goal in their previous seven Scottish Cup matches, a run stretching back to February 2018.

Then, Conor Sammon scored an 84th minute consolation goal in a 3-2 defeat for Partick Thistle in the last-16. Since then Morton, Rangers, Motherwell, Airdrieonians, St Johnstone, Hibernian and Aberdeen had all tried and failed to breach the Celtic net.

But finally, in the 53rd minute of the 2019 Scottish Cup final, Celtic’s sheet was clean no more. It had been coming, with Hearts piling pressure on the Premiership winners, and was the result of a neat passage of play. After good work from Hickey down the left, the ball well to Clare near the penalty spot. Unable to get a shot off, he backheeled the ball to Edwards, who showed composure before finishing past Bain.

Winner: Neil Lennon

Going into the final, there was some doubt on whether Neil Lennon would be Celtic manager next season.

The Northern Irishman had only come in at the end of February on a caretaker role, replacing compatriot Brendan Rodgers who left to take charge of Leicester City.

Despite being head and shoulders above the rest of Scottish football, Celtic’s players haven’t been showing that on the pitch in recent weeks – despite completing the treble treble.

Some Celtic fans may have been hoping it was due to players winding down after the Premiership was secured, resting themselves for the cup final. But that wasn’t the case.

Celtic’s play was laboured for the most part of the final, and they never really looked like dominating a side winless in their last five matches. Only once Hearts took the lead, did Celtic step up a gear, pushing for their equaliser. But their winning goals came through Hearts mistakes, rather than impressive play of their own.

Yet the comeback, treble treble, and reaction from players, appear to have been enough for Lennon to be offered the full-time job.

But, while fans at Hampden Park cheered loudly when Lennon lifted up the trophy, those on Twitter don’t appear to be too happy with the caretaker being offered permanent role…

Even Ser Podrick Payne appeared unhappy.