Caley stun Celtic to reach final

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:33

Caley stun Celtic to reach final

The Caley full-back turned home Graeme Shinnie’s cross in the 117th minute to end Celtic’s treble dream and earn Inverness a final showdown with Falkirk next month.
However, Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic will point to a controversial incident moments before half-time when, while leading 1-0, they were denied a clear-cut penalty.
With seconds to go before the break, Josh Meekings handled the ball inside the six-yard box but it was not spotted by referee Steven McLean, or any of his officials, and Inverness survived.
Celtic had dominated much of the first half and almost took the lead on 13 minutes when a 25-yard shot by Nir Bitton hit the angle of the bar and post.
And just two minutes later Leigh Griffiths forced a great save out of Ryan Esson, who dived full length to keep out the 22-yard strike.
Celtic duly took the lead on 18 minutes when Virgil van Dijk’s curling free-kick from just outside the box hit the inside of the left post on its way to the back of the net.
Inverness missed a great chance to equalise in the 25th minute when, following a corner, the ball fell to Edward Ofere, who miscued when well-placed 10 yards out.
At the other end Caley ‘keeper Esson was called into action again to deny Stefan Johansen after he let fly from just outside the box.
With half-time looming, the match erupted when Meekings raised an arm to keep out a close-range Griffiths header, although none of the officials spotted the offence and a penalty was not given.
There was another major turning point 13 minutes into the second half when the Hoops were reduced to 10 men and Inverness equalised from the resulting penalty.
Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon was shown a straight red card when he chopped down Marley Watkins, who had raced clear into the box.
And, after a disconsolate Gordon had walked slowly off the vast Hampden pitch, on came replacement ‘keeper Lukasz Zaluska for James Forrest, who was sacrificed by his manager Ronny Deila.
Three minutes passed before Greg Tansey was finally given the chance to coolly send Zaluska the wrong way and fire Caley level.
The match certainly opened up during the closing half-an-hour of normal time with Inverness enjoying far greater possession than their opponents.
Johansen almost put Celtic back in front with a high, looping shot from distance that ended up on the roof of the net while, at the other end, Watkins clipped a shot inches wide of the left post on the break.
Celtic were forced to play extra-time without their talisman Kris Commons after he limped off with 89 minutes on the clock.
Six minutes into overtime, Inverness went ahead for the first time when Ofere latched onto a loose ball inside the box to find the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
But 10-man Hoops were level in the 103rd minute as John Guidetti’s 25-yard free-kick was badly misjudged by ‘keeper Esson, who allowed the ball to bounce over him as he dived to his right.
Inverness substitute Nick Ross then scooped over from 14 yards with an empty net at his mercy early in the second period of extra-time.
The winner arrived three minutes from time, as Inverness booked their spot alongside Falkirk in May’s final, when Shinnie’s low cross was converted at the far post by Raven, who clinically kept his cool to score from a tight angle.

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