We now know one team that will be participating in the Scottish League Cup final after Aberdeen won their semifinal matchup against St Johnstone. The game was much closer than the 4-0 score indicated, but the Dons advance and will be watching the second semifinal closely as they scout their challenger for the League Cup.
Scottish League Cup Schedule
|Semifinal 1||Aberdeen 4 - 0 St Johnstone||Saturday Feb. 1|
|Semifinal 2||Hearts vs. Inverness CT||Sunday Feb. 2; 12:15 p.m. GMT (7:15 a.m. EST)|
|Final||Aberdeen vs. Hearts/Inverness CT||Sunday Mar. 16|
Aberdeen 4-0 St. Johnstone
It didn’t take long for the drama to unfold, as winger Jonny Haynes found the back of the net in the third minute of the match. The Dons were the beneficiaries of a poor clearance by backup Saints keeper Stevie Banks, and Haynes gave them an early lead to build off of.
Banks was starting in place of the suspended Alan Mannus, and that suspension will haunt the starting keeper as he wonders what could have been.
Mannus’ two-game suspension—the result of a red card—would have been served had St Johnstone’s game against Dundee United been played, but torrential rain washed out that match and drowned Mannus’ hopes of playing in the semifinal.
The starting keeper talked to Gavin Berry of the Daily Record about his disappointment:
The fact I’m serving my first suspension means the red card against Hearts is in my mind even more. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since it happened and I’m even less likely to forget it now. I wish it hadn’t happened because look how much it has cost me but I’ll travel to Tynecastle to give the boys as much support as I can.
Unfortunately, the Saints may have benefited more from his on-field play than his support from the dugout.
By no means did St Johnstone cave after the early deficit, however. On the contrary, they responded with an aggressive attack and pinned the Dons defense back, forcing six first-half corners.
They even hit the woodwork twice (once in each half), but their attacking efforts were unfruitful.
And they paid for their failure to finish.
Another defensive miscue—this time an uninspiring clearance from midfielder David Wotherspoon—set up Aberdeen’s Peter Pawlett, who took full advantage of the scoring opportunity to give the Dons a 2-0 lead heading into half-time.
Two more goals in the second half resulted in the lopsided final score, but the match was closer than the outcome suggests.
|Team||Shots||Shots on Goal||Time of Possession||Corners||Fouls|
Crucial mistakes by the St Johnstone defense and the inability to make the most of their scoring chances doomed them from the start. That shouldn’t take anything away from an Aberdeen side that's playing very well right now and looked very composed throughout the match. The Dons broke a dry spell of League Cup success with the win.
Scottish League Cup semi-final: Aberdeen 4-0 St Johnstone - Aberdeen reached their first major final for 14 years ... http://t.co/jKxghECfGa— Aberdeen FC News (@AberdeenFCNews) February 1, 2014
Now, they just have to wait to find out who they’ll face in the final.
There was some unfortunate news to report off the pitch however, as Celtic boss Neil Lennon was reportedly forced to leave the game early after being targeted by supporters.
Per Euan Crumpley of the Daily Mail, the Celtic manager—there to scout Aberdeen ahead of his side’s Scottish cup clash with the Dons—was spat on, verbally abused and showered with coins as he watched the game, forcing him to leave after 70 minutes of the game.
Lennon’s representative Martin Reilly was quoted stating “Neil was spat on, verbally abused, had coins thrown at him and eventually he had to leave”.
Per Crumpley’s piece, both club’s were quick to condemn anyone involved. Celtic dubbed the actions as “totally unacceptable” and Aberdeen suggesting those who were involved have “no place in football”.
Heart of Midlothian 2-2 Inverness Caledonian Thistle (Inverness Won 4-2 on Penalties
A hugely dramatic game at Easter Road saw nine-man Inverness reach the Scottish League Cup final after they came out on top in a penalty shootout against Hearts.
Inverness CT were down to nine men when they scored a late, late equaliser to force the game into extra-time. And they hung on despite a Hearts onslaught to take the game to penalties and eventually emerge as 4-2 winners. They'll play Aberdeen in the final after they triumphed 4-0 against St. Johnstone.
The Hearts players only have themselves to blame after failing to take advantage of their significant numerical advantage in extra-time.
Gutted. Only ourselves to blame. All the best to Inverness in the final.— Hearts Rant (@HeartsRant) February 2, 2014
The first period was pretty uneventful all-in-all, with neither side willing to give an inch in a typically tight semifinal affair.
But that was all about to change in a second half that had a bit of everything. It all started when Caley Thistle took the lead early in the second half when Greg Tansey smashed in a stunning strike from 25 yards.
A disastrous three minute spell looked to have ended Thistle hopes, though. Gary Warren was sent off for a second bookable offence before Hearts struck twice in three minutes against a shellshocked Inverness outfit. And it was Jamie Hamill at the double for the Edinburgh club.
His first came after his strike was deflected following a well worked freekick. But his second was clean as you like as he curled in a wonderful 25 yard freekick.
Inverness seemingly had no answer as Hearts used the extra man to their advantage and popped the ball round well. Their misery looked to be complete when Josh Meekings was also dismissed with a couple of minutes remaining, but somehow they managed to snatch an equaliser.
A long punt into the box found Nick Ross and he kept his cool after his initial effort was blocked, steering home to send the tie into extra time and the Caley fans into delirium.
Hearts probed and pressed in the additional 30 minutes but they failed to make their pressure tell before and penalties loomed large.
The first two penalties were missed, the next two were scored to make it 1-1. Ross scored for Inverness before Hamill had his saved by Inverness 'keeper Dean Brill. That miss proved to be key as the remaining penalties were scored; Ross Draper scoring the decisive kick.
Wow...Wow...Wow....what a day, what a dayyyyy!!!!— Official ICTFC (@ICTFC) February 2, 2014
Inverness had somehow managed to make it through to their first ever major cup final.