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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Fraser trusts gut instinct

Lennon heaps praise on goalkeeper

Fraser Forster celebrates Celtic’s win by lifting the trophy. Pic: Reuters
Fraser Forster celebrates Celtic’s win by lifting the trophy. Pic: Reuters

Celtic hero Fraser Forster revealed gut instinct led to him saving a crucial Alfredo Morelos penalty in the Hoops' 1-0 Scottish League Cup final win over Rangers at Hampden Park.

The 31-year-old England international, on loan from Southampton for his second spell at the Parkhead club, made a series of saves before defender Christopher Jullien knocked in a Ryan Christie free-kick in the 59th minute to give the holders the lead.

His best save, however, was when he threw himself to the right to block Morelos's spot-kick, after Celtic's Dutch right-back Jeremie Frimpong had been sent off by referee Willie Collum for fouling the Colombian striker inside the box and the Hoops held out for their 10th successive trophy win.

Picked

Forster said: "I picked a way to go and luckily he went the same way that I went.

"I am very fortunate that happened and it was nice to make a save.

"I just go with my gut and see what happens and today it went for me and I was just delighted to make the save.

"There was so long left in the game to play with 10 men. We had to keep going until the end.

"It is a different kind of performance than we are used to but we showed we can do that side of the game as well.

"It is another special day for my collection. I've had some special days and I am just buzzing I did my bit for the team.

"They were fantastic in front of me and when we went down to 10 men we defended really well.

"It was probably the worst we have played all season but I am delighted to win, that's all that matters in a cup final.

"Obviously you want to play better but winning is the main thing."

Jeremie Frimpong admits he sat in the Hampden Park dressing room in a state of panic after being sent off in Celtic's enthralling win over Rangers.

The under-pressure Hoops took the lead against the run of play and four minutes later the 18-year-old Dutch right-back, playing in his first Old Firm game, was sent packing by referee Willie Collum for holding back Gers forward Morelos in the penalty area, but Forster saved the Colombia striker's spot-kick.

Frimpong, signed from Manchester City in September, was a relieved man and afterwards he said: "Oh my days. When you get sent off like that, I was inside panicking. It was the worst feeling ever.

"Every time Rangers got the ball I was just panicking.

"The time was going so slow but the team held it through and I am buzzing obviously.

"Chris went to clear it, it ricocheted off someone and Morelos was through on goal.

"Obviously my natural instincts was to put him off a little bit because he was through on goal, all he had to do was a tap in.

"Fraser is unstoppable. I love him. He saved me."

Manager Neil Lennon was left purring after the win.

The Northern Irishman - who follows Billy McNeill to become only the second man to have won all three Scottish prizes as both a player and a manager - said: "I'm really proud. We had to dig in today. We didn't play well in the first half. We had to rely on Fraser at times to make some world-class saves.

Character

"But the character, pride and resilience they showed today was outstanding. Sometimes they don't get asked too many questions at domestic level, but they showed today they have that in abundance.

"There are many ways to win a game of football. Over the past eight to 10 weeks, we have been playing scintillating, brilliant, breathtaking football. Today we had to roll up our sleeves and dig in.

"I've not seen a goalkeeping performance or goalkeeper like Fraser for a long time. In his first spell here, he did some incredible things and now he's doing it again in his second."

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