SPL champions Celtic clinched their first domestic double in six years after lifting the Scottish Cup as Gary Hooper’s brace helped secure a routine victory over Hibernian.
Eoin Doyle could have headed Hibs into an early lead shortly before Hooper connected with strike partner Anthony Stokes’s cross to give Celtic the lead.
The front-two linked up effectively again when former Hibs frontman Stokes provided a deft cross for Hooper to guide home a looping header to put the Bhoys in the driving seat before half-time.
Despite enjoying moments of pressure, Hibs failed to threaten the Celtic goal – and Joe Ledley’s thumping drive 11 minutes from time completed the formalties.
It sealed a record 36th Scottish Cup triumph for the Parkhead club whilst recording a 15th league and cup double – their first under boss Neil Lennon.
For Hibs, their long wait to lift the trophy extends to 111 years since they defeated Celtic 1-0 in 1902 as their final hoodoo continued – losing for the tenth successive time with five of the defeats coming against the Hoops.
The Leith outfit’s last silverware came in the 2007 Scottish League Cup under John Collins, as they suffer back-to-back losses in the Hampden showpiece following a similar tale of woe in the 5-1 thrashing by Edinburgh rivals Hearts 12 months ago.
The mere consolation for Hibs is the guarantee of European football next term, entering the first qualifying round of the Europa League in July.
But Hibs couldn’t follow suit as Celtic proved their favourites tag, winning by the same scoreline as their 2011 triumph against Motherwell and most recent success over Hibernian in the competition back in 2001 during Martin O’Neill’s tenure.
Bhoys boss Lennon – free to return to the dugout after serving a suspended touchline ban for entering the pitch during last month’s defeat to Motherwell – can now reflect on a successful 59-match campaign.
The Hoops claimed their second successive and 44th Scottish Premier League title on 21 April by a 16-point margin, reached the last 16 of the Champions League and made the League Cup semi-finals where they lost 3-2 to St Mirren at Hampden in January.
? DID YOU KNOW ?
Celtic have now won the Scottish Cup for a fifth time in 10 seasons – the 95th major honour in the club’s 125-year history.
It’s the second time Hibs have reached back-to-back Scottish Cup finals – losing to both Celtic and Airdrie United in 1923 and 1924 respectively.
Hibs made two changes from their 1-0 win over relegated Dundee in their final league match last weekend – Kevin Thomson replaced Lewis Stevenson in midfield while Doyle, who will join Chesterfield in the summer, made a farewell start in place of young Ross Caldwell.
There were only three survivors from the team that began last season’s final defeat by Hearts.
Celtic made three alterations from last Sunday’s 4-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice as Stokes replaced fans’ player of the year Georgios Samaras to partner Hooper up front for just the 10th time this term.
Charlie Mulgrew returned at centre-back in place of the benched Efe Ambrose after missing the last SPL game with a knee injury while James Forrest overcame a hamstring complaint to oust the departing Paddy McCourt on the right flank.
Scott Brown captained the side against his old club as fellow midfielders Beram Kayal and Victor Wanyama sat out through suspension.
Both sides had to endure the rigours of extra-time in the semi-finals last month as Hibs staged a dramatic second-half recovery from three goals down to beat Falkirk 4-3 before Celtic saw off Dundee United by the same scoreline in a topsy-turvy contest.
HIBERNIAN’S SCOTTISH CUP ROAD TO HAMPDEN:
(13th appearance in the final)
Fourth Round – Hibernian (Zaliukas og) 1-0 Hearts
Fifth Round – Hibernian (Deegan) 1-0 Aberdeen (Vernon missed pen)
Quarter Final – Kilmarnock 2-4 Hibernian (Griffiths 2, Done, Griffiths pen)
Semi Final – Hibernian (Griffiths 2, Harris, Doyle) 4-3 Falkirk
Hibs started brightly with Leigh Griffiths – who scored a stunning semi-final winner in extra-time – and Tom Taiwo sending efforts harmlessly over the crossbar early on.
Only a sensational save from Fraser Forster, making his 50th appearance of the season, prevented them from forging a sixth-minute lead as Doyle’s close-range header was parried from Ryan McGivern’s centre.
However, against the run of play, Celtic broke the deadlock two minutes later as Stokes – who scored the winner in the semi-final against Dundee United – retrieved Mikael Lustig’s centre to set up Hooper who steered home his second Scottish Cup goal at the back post past Ben Williams.
It gave Celtic first blood on the day of destiny and the ideal respite following a sluggish start to ignite the showpiece occasion and place the onus on Hibs to react positively.
Hibs slowly turned the screw but were shackled comfortably by the Hoops, who posed a threat going forward themselves as Hooper, with 19 goals in 32 SPL appearances this season, released Stokes who jinked away from Alan Maybury before angling a low drive into the side netting.
A vital stop from Hibs custodian Williams, captaining the side in the absence of injured skipper James McPake, denied Ledley after the Welshman peeled away from Jordon Forster to latch on to a delightful Kris Commons pass.
THE SCOTTISH CUP IN STATISTICS:
This is the 128th year of the Scottish Cup, the third season in which its sponsors have been betting outlet William Hill
It is now recognised as the world’s oldest national trophy in football
The first ever winners of the Scottish Cup were Queen’s Park, who defeated Clyde at Hampden Park in 1874 in front of a crowd of 2,500
The final itself is the 100th Scottish Cup match of the season, ending a nine-month journey which began in the preliminary round back on 4 August
The frustration of losing the midfield battle was apparent with Jorge Claros warned about his conduct after bringing down Commons – making his 100th Celtic appearance.
Celtic, nevertheless, demonstrated the gulf in class and quality with a well-crafted second goal to give them breathing space.
Another pinpoint Stokes cross from the left-hand side was watched all the way by Hooper, who guided a header back across Williams to net his 31st goal of the campaign in the 31st minute.
Hibs were in a precarious position with some supporters heading for premature refreshments while top scorer Griffiths ominously required treatment to his calf after landing awkwardly in a challenge with Mulgrew but was able to resume.
The forward almost sought an opening when latching onto on-loan Manchester City full-back McGivern’s diagonal and touching the ball past Forster, however, he couldn’t force the ball home.
Celtic utilised the width of the Hampden pitch to their advantage by stretching Hibs with a range of passing to drain their energy on a humid afternoon in Glasgow.
The contest was played out at a lacklustre pace as half-time loomed – Commons lashed a 25-yard drive wide before Kevin Thomson fired over at the other end after picking up a defensive header from Kelvin Wilson.
Hibs probed in the early stages of the second half but Celtic had firm control as Stokes – who scored 24 times for Hibs in 2009-10 before moving to Celtic – fired narrowly wide and Forrest almost had a clear sight of goal when being freed by Hooper.
The first major flare-up occurred on 54 minutes when Claros cynically upended Brown, with the Celtic skipper quickly jumping to his feet to square up to the Honduran which sparked a mass brawl.
CELTIC’S SCOTTISH CUP ROAD TO HAMPDEN:
(55th appearance in the final)
Fourth Round – Celtic (Keddie og) 1-1 Arbroath
Fourth Round Replay – Arbroath 0-1 Celtic (Matthews)
Fifth Round – Raith Rovers 0-3 Celtic (Commons pen, Forrest, Mulgrew)
Quarter Final – St Mirren 1-2 Celtic (Ledley, Stokes)
Semi Final – Dundee United 3-4 Celtic (Commons 2, Wanyama, Stokes)
Referee Willie Collum – in charge of his 52nd match of the season and first Scottish Cup final at the age of 34 – defused the situation as tempers frayed before booking both players.
Griffiths then saw yellow minutes later for a late kick out on Mulgrew as he charged down a clearance, despite apologising to the defender.
Pat Fenlon’s side probed encouragingly in the final third, with 18-year-old Alex Harris a useful outlet down the right, but were found wanting at the back when a forward punt from Lustig picked Forrest out.
The winger – who had scored four goals in 28 previous appearances this season – saw his pull-back towards Hooper cut out by former Celtic academy player Forster before crashing a snapshot over the crossbar.
With Celtic having a firm grip on proceedings, Hibs introduced Danny Handling and fellow youngster Ross Caldwell in the hope of injecting fresh enthusiasm while Samaras replaced Commons for Celtic on 75 minutes.
? DID YOU KNOW ?
This is the first time ever that the Scottish Cup final has been played on a Sunday.
The team who have scored first have gone on to win the last nine finals.
The game began to ebb and flow again although the Hoops, already out of sight, increased the margins further in the 79th minute.
Stokes waited for the overlapping run of Lustig before releasing the right-back whose ground-level cross was missed by Hooper and ricocheted off Maybury directly into the path of Ledley.
The midfielder, who missed the 2011 final against Motherwell through injury, crashed home on the swivel into the top corner for his 10th goal of the campaign to put the icing on a comprehensive triumph.
Ledley took over the captain’s armband moments later when Brown gave way for Ambrose to a standing ovation.
The Hoops were utterly dominant in the closing stages, seeing out the game in an exhibition manner as “You’ll Never Walk Alone” rang around Hampden.
Hibs fans made themselves heard too and admirably supported their team right until the end.
Celtic’s name was already being engraved on the trophy in the tunnel as Stokes drifted a cross-cum-shot over before McCourt made his 70th and final Celtic outing from the bench with two minutes to spare.
The Irishman slalomed away from two Hibs players to tee up Hooper, who drilled over the chance to claim a hat-trick.
At the other end, Harris, starting for the seventh time in eight games, skewed a rash attempt wide of the target.
As the referee brought proceedings to a close, a resounding cheer echoed around the stadium as Hibs players congregated despondently in the dugout whilst the Bhoys savoured the moment.
The wait, as Hibs collected their runners-up momentos, was finally over when Brown lifted the trophy before the squad received their medals and paraded the pitch donning banners “Scottish Cup winners 2013” and shirts reading “Double Winners 2013”.
Possession: Hibernian 50%, Celtic 50%
Shots: Hibernian 8, Celtic 10
Shots on target: Hibernian 3, Celtic 5
Shots off target: Hibernian 5, Celtic 5
Corners: Hibernian 4, Celtic 0
Fouls: Hibernian 18, Celtic 6
Offside: Hibernian 0, Celtic 2
Assists: Hibernian 0, Celtic 2 (Stokes 2)
Hibernian boss Pat Fenlon: “We’ve contributed to a decent enough game. We came up against a really good side. We had the best chance early on with Eoin’s (Doyle) header. I think if that goes in it becomes a different game, because there’s a pressure on Celtic to win football matches, but I can’t fault the players today for effort and everything else.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “To win the double as a manager and as a player is pretty special. It’s going to be hard to emulate that next season. I feel great now. I felt awful all day. I was really nervous, the stomach churning, butterflies, all that sort of thing. Just the weight of expectancy and history really and I knew how much it meant to Hibs to win the Cup today. I really wanted to get over the line with this one.”
Referee: Willie Collum (Scotland) – 9.5/10
Assistant referees: Willie Conquer and Martin Cryans
Fourth official: Alan Mulvanny
Additional assistant referees: John Beaton and Bobby Madden