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Friday 15 December 2017

Virgil: I feared for Cup final dream

Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk (below) admits he feared his cup final dream had been wrecked by last week's red card at Tannadice.

The Dutchman was sent-off during the Hoops' Scottish Cup quarter-final draw with Dundee United following an off-the-ball spat with the Taysider's Calum Butcher.

Referee Craig Thompson sent-off Van Dijk before making a major gaffe when he wrongly dismissed Butcher's Terrors team-mate Paul Paton.

That left both men sweating on their places for Sunday's Scottish League Cup showdown at Hampden.

RELIEF

But there was relief for Van Dijk and Paton as they were later cleared to play after successful appeals to the Scottish Football Association's disciplinary panel.

And it was the Celtic centre-half who was left bearing the brightest grin as his side clinched Ronny Deila's first trophy as Parkhead boss with a 2-0 win at the National Stadium.

Van Dijk said: "It was quite a tough week. I've never experienced anything like it in my life.

"It would have been very disappointing if I'd not been allowed to play on Sunday, especially with it being my first final ever.

"But you know, justice was served and I was able to play. Luckily I got the red card overturned and we did a good job."

Van Dijk has been linked with summer moves to south, with Barclays Premier League high-flyers Arsenal and Southampton monitoring his progress.

But for now the 23-year-old is happy to enjoy Celtic's treble chase.

"It means a lot to have lifted the League Cup," he said. "It's my first cup trophy ever. "This club is an amazing place, I have always said that. I have been improving since the day came here.

"That is the most important thing for a player. If you win trophies, that's even better."

Kris Commons fired Celtic ahead midway through the first half before substitute James Forrest stroked home a second 12 minutes from time.

The Hoops winger also had time to miss a late penalty as a United side that spent the last 35 minutes a man down following skipper Sean Dillon's red card avoided a heavier defeat.

However, Jackie McNamara's team will go for revenge when the sides meet for part three of their four-game duel with tomorrow's Scottish Cup replay.

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