Andy Harrow of The Terrace Scottish Football Podcast takes us through five memorable League Cup semi-final moments, including last-gasp winners, extra-time drama and penalty shoot-out madness!
Rangers 2-1 Celtic (Bert Konterman)
One of the League Cup’s most iconic goals came from one of its unlikeliest sources. Bert Konterman had scored four goals in all competitions by the time the Ibrox club were paired with Celtic in the 2001/02 semi-final; his fifth and final of the season was to be the pick of the bunch. A hectic game at Hampden Park had seen the team’s trade goals - Peter Lovenkrands for Rangers and Bobo Balde for Celtic - and chances continued to come and go as the game moved towards penalties. No one, though, had reckoned on a thunderbolt from the blue. With the game deep into the first half of extra time, Shota Arveladze found himself crowded out on the edge of the Celtic box. The ball spun out, 25 yards from goal, into the path of Konterman. The centre-half adjusted his body before rocketing a right-foot shot through a crowd of players and past the despairing Rab Douglas in the Celtic goal. It was to prove a winner as surprising as it was stunning.
Dundee 0-1 Livingston (Derek Lilley)
It’s 0-0 in a tense semi-final. It’s the 90th minute and your team have been awarded a penalty. You have the chance to put your team through to their first League Cup Final. History is in your hands. This was the situation Derek Lilley had to confront as he stood in front of Julian Speroni in the Dundee goal, the ball resting patiently on the penalty spot. Fortunately for Livingston, Lilley’s nerves did not fail him and he sent the Almondvale side through to face Hibernian in the final. Lilley was to have a major impact that day too, his goal opening the scoring as Livi beat their Edinburgh rivals 2-0 to win the trophy.
Motherwell 3-2 Hearts (Marc Fitzpatrick)
Motherwell had looked on course for the final for much of their clash with Hearts in February, 2005. Stephen Craigan had headed the Fir Park side ahead after 20 minutes and it remained that way until Scott McDonald was hauled down in the area as the clock ticked towards the 78th minute. Richie Foran dispatched the penalty and, it seemed, booked Motherwell’s place in the showpiece event. Hearts substitutes had other ideas though. With five minutes to go, Mark Burchill pulled one back and, in the dying seconds, Hjalmar Thorarinsson equalised. Buoyed by their late comeback, Hearts shaded extra time, but they could not find a way past veteran goalkeeper Gordon Marshall in the Well goal. Indeed, it was the Lanarkshire side who found a last-minute winner of their own as Marc Fitzpatrick, another substitute, ran clear and slotted past Craig Gordon to the delight - and relief - of manager Terry Butcher and the travelling fans.
Celtic 0-0 Dundee United (Artur Boruc and Lukasz Zaluska)
Both Boruc and Zaluska had been heavily involved in 120 minutes leading up to the penalty shoot-out which decided this semi-final. Boruc made a crucial stop from Willo Flood early on, before Zaluska – who had signed a pre-contract with Celtic – did the same at the other end, denying Scott Brown. Zaluska would prove to be the busier of the goalkeepers as Celtic dominated the chances, but neither man could be beaten as the game moved past regulation, then extra-time. So to penalties. The shoot-out had reached 8-8 before both keepers saved in sudden death to keep the spot-kicks coming. Indeed, by the time Celtic and United had scored another goal each, it was time for the two Polish stoppers to face each other. Zaluska went first and scored, meaning Boruc had to beat his compatriot to keep Celtic in the League Cup. His run up was short and his shot high and, for a moment, it looked like it would go over the bar. Instead, it went into the top-left corner of Zaluska’s net and Celtic were level. The incredible penalty shoot-out did not last much longer however. Willo Flood missed next up, Scott McDonald scored and Celtic, many chewed nails later, were through.
Dundee United 2-1 Aberdeen (Nadir Ciftci)
There was little to separate Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen and Jackie McNamara’s Dundee United as two of the country’s high-flying sides faced off against each other at Hampden. So, when Donervon Daniels' header looped in after 49 minutes it looked like it might be enough to send Aberdeen through. United rallied, however, and Callum Morris nodded in at the far post from a corner on the hour mark. Back to stalemate and extra time appeared to be inevitable when Paul Paton lobbed a hopeful ball into the Dons penalty area with six minutes to go. Nadir Ciftci reacted quickest and got just enough purchase with a backwards header to guide it past Scott Brown. It was not the prettiest of goals, but neither the striker nor the ecstatic United support cared one bit.