St Johnstone won the 2014 William Hill Scottish Cup on Saturday, beating Dundee United 2-0 in a thrilling final played at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
The match was an up-and-down affair from the very first whistle, filled with controversy and drama.
Steven Anderson scored the opening goal of the match right before half-time, following a goalkeeping error from the Tangerines' Radoslaw Cierzniak on a corner.
The Polish stopper left his line and completely missed the ball, leaving his goal wide open for Anderson to head home easily.
It would be the only mistake in an otherwise flawless performance, as both stoppers stole the show. Cierzniak's stop to deny Stevie May from close range midway through the second half was one of the best saves we've seen all year.
The Saints had the better chances early in the match, including a line drive from James Dunne and a hard shot from David Wotherspoon, which deflected right into the chest of Ciezniak.
United started to grow into the match and could have had a penalty when Dunne kicked the ball on to the arm of teammate Frazer Wright, but the official rightly decided the action to be unintentional.
The first half seemed destined to end 0-0 before Ciezniak's mistake gave Saints the lead with just seconds to play, as shared by AS English:
St Johnstone, appearing in their first ever Scottish Cup final, are leading Dundee Utd 1-0 at half-time.— AS English (@English_AS) May 17, 2014
The Tangerines opened the second half on fire and were very unlucky not to score when a free-kick from Nadir Ciftci hit the crossbar and bounced underneath Alan Mannus, who was able to keep the ball from crossing the line by sheer luck. The Courier's Eric Nicolson couldn't believe it:
Ciftci FK. Off bar, back off Mannus. Keeper smothers it. Unbelievable good/bad luck— Eric Nicolson (@C_ENicolson) May 17, 2014
Saints looked to have doubled their lead when May had the ball in the net following a free-kick, but as shared by Sky Sports Football, the goal-line official correctly ruled the attacker had used his hand:
The Football Conference's official Twitter account pointed out the goal-line official really played a vital role, something we don't often see:
First time seen goal line official make important decision. Scottish Cup Final. Great spot for handball to deny St Johnstone two goal lead.— FOOTBALL CONFERENCE (@conferencefooty) May 17, 2014
United kept pushing forward for an equaliser and had several great chances, but Mannus seemed determined to keep his nets clean.
And with just 10 minutes left to play, Steven MacLean reacted quickest on a spilled shot from May, finding Ciezniak on his way to the goal. The ball took a lucky bounce, finding itself back into the path of the striker who easily converted to give his team a two-goal lead.
Sky Sports Football had the image of the goal that clinched it:
St Johnstone locked things up at the back to hold on for a historic win, giving the club their first-ever win in the Scottish Cup, the oldest national cup tournament in the world.
Tommy Wright told the BBC his team were focused on nothing but winning ahead of the match, refusing to give into the storylines that the club would be making history regardless:
We did ask them to create history by getting to the final but the job is not done.
But the job isn't done because we want to be the first St Johnstone team to win it.
[...]You hear people say 'we think your name is on the cup this year' and there probably has been that thought for a while.
There is a level of excitement which has built up over the last seven days and the players are aware of the occasion and what it would mean to the club.
But when the whistle goes the players will only be concentrating on trying to win a game of football.
The Saints did exactly that, and while fans of Dundee United will feel unlucky given their team's multitude of chances in the second half, St. Johnstone took full advantage of the few mistakes the Tangerines made to emerge victorious.
The biggest winner of Saturday's final was arguably Scottish football itself as the match was truly the very best the tournament had to offer.
In the country's final match of the season, St Johnstone and Dundee United showed everyone that Scottish football can indeed be on a par with the big boys from England's Premier League.