SPL - Killie shock Celtic in League Cup final
The 1-0 win ends Killie’s 15-year wait for a trophy while Celtic, who are on pole to win the Scottish Premier League and are in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, have now suffered back-to-back League Cup final defeats after also losing last season’s final 2-1 against Rangers.
Despite the victory, tragedy was to hit Kilmarnock too as the father of their player Liam Kelly suffered a fatal heart-attack while watching the match.
It came as no surprise to see Celtic go into this final with an offensive line-up as Neil Lennon went in search of the first part of a possible domestic treble, while Kilmarnock stuck by a resilient starting XI which saw Michael Nelson and Mahamadou Sissoko at the heart of their defence.
The game was barely five minutes old when Sissoko gifted Celtic an early chance to take the lead. His sloppy pass was easily intercepted by Gary Hooper who, clean through on goal, saw his low drive comfortably blocked by the onrushing Cameron Bell.
Thomas Rogne then went close for the Hoops from a corner before Kilmarnock’s Dean Shiels, who gave the Celtic defence plenty of food for thought, had a clean strike whistle just past Fraser Forster’s left-hand post.
Bell came to Killie’s rescue again, as more sustained pressure from Celtic resulted in captain Scott Brown skilfully evading a challenge down the right wing before whipping in a telling cross for Anthony Stokes who did well to head powerfully towards goal. Yet, when the net seemed destined to bulge, Bell was on hand to heroically get down low and palm it away from danger.
Sissoko had a header cleared off the line by Stokes, while Bell pulled off the save of the half, tipping over a Brown thunderbolt from all of 30 yards to keep this game goalless going in at the break.
Not much changed after the interval, as both teams went in search of that all important opener.
Early chances from Shiels and Sissoko were wasted while Joe Ledley – who had a quiet afternoon – blasted wide after finding plenty of time and space on the edge of the Killie penalty area.
Then, on the hour mark, it was Bell who kept this game goalless, comfortably collecting a tame strike by Stokes when one-on-one. It was Victor Wanyama’s turn to feel a sense of frustration thanks to Bell, who acrobatically diverted the midfielder’s header over the bar.
With Celtic seemingly tiring, and appearing to run out of ideas, Kilmarnock broke the deadlock with the eventual winner. Ben Gordon drove forward down Celtic’s right-hand side, played Liam Kelly into the penalty area before sending an inviting cross towards the back post where substitute Van Tornhout, unmarked, was on hand to head past the helpless Fraser Forster.
Few chances were created from either side after the goal, but there was still enough time for referee Willie Collum to adjudge Stokes to have dived in the Killie box late on after a separate lunge from Michael Nelson.
The win for Kilmarnock was their first in six attempts in the League cup. The 1-0 win made sure Killie did not concede a single goal throughout the tournament.