Sunday glory for Celtic as Alonso's team stunningly win silverware; watch winning goal
For Celtic FC Women, this just wasn’t meant to happen.
An SWPL Cup Final appearance showed the sharp rise the Celtic FC Women side had undertaken with Fran Alonso. But Glasgow City were more than used to these showpiece games. Going into this game, Glasgow City were yet to lose domestically this season.
This Celtic team is unmatched for spirit and fight, however.
Fran Alonso set his team up to attack, and attack they did. In a frantic game, littered with good chances, it was the Hoops were in the ascendency from the start.
Aggressive, determined and first to nearly every ball, Alonso’s side were ruthlessly motivated to make history.
Firhill for thrills as Celtic quality shows against Glasgow City
Celtic were immediately at it. After just 35 seconds, Charlie Wellings – a constant goal threat – found herself at close range after being found by Chloe Craig off the right. A smart save from Lee Alexander prevented Wellings, but it was a sign of things to come.
Alonso’s side made a dominant start to the game. Larisey nearly took advantage of some slack defending, while she was unlucky not to meet a tempting cross from Jodie Bartle not long after. This was within the first five minutes of the game.
Glasgow City looked out of sorts at the back. But we know how deadly they can be going forward. Lauren Davidson was finding space down Celtic’s left, but couldn’t connect with any deliveries. Chinchilla was looking isolated in City’s front-line, but they were at least finding space in the early stages.
Shortly, though, Celtic would take over again. On a break, Jacynta found Jodie Bartle marauding down the left-hand side. Bartle’s running wasn’t rewarded, though, as Glasgow City began to grow confidence at the back.
It’d be short-lived, however. Winning a free-kick near the right hand touchline, Kelly Clark whipped in a trademark dead ball that found centre-back Caitlin Hayes in space on 25 minutes. A brilliant goal, and the breakthrough Celtic sorely deserved [BBC Alba]:
Glasgow City immediately responded. A quick move straight from kick-off found Ode Fulutudilu with space to shoot, but her effort across the face of goal went harmlessly wide. From then on, City’s uncharacteristic nervousness kicked back in.
Wellings nearly took advantage of a wayward clearance, but City did just enough to recover. Their usually crisp passing and solid defensive structure looked shot from the pressure Celtic were putting them under.
Celtic didn’t cede possession often, because they knew when they would, even a weak Glasgow City could take advantage. That was the fear when Davidson found Chinchilla in the box on the 34th minute, but Rachael Johnstone remained untroubled.
And so Celtic took a 1-0 lead into the break. Would an out-of-sorts Glasgow City provide more of a threat in the second half?
Celtic FC Women were just 45 minutes from history
If the first half was a battle, the second was just as frantic. On the 49th minute, a smart move involving Jacynta and Charlie Wellings saw a shot blocked, but Sarah Harkes nearly rifled home a second for Celtic, with Lee Alexander getting enough on it to make a save.
On the 54th, Celtic nearly took advantage of another Glasgow City mistake. Celtic suddenly had 3 on 1 after some excellent pressing, but Wellings shot from distance instead of finding Larisey to her right.
Just two minutes later, Celtic were presented with a brilliant chance. Moving the ball forward, Clark and Larisey combined well, before Wellings released the ball into Jacyntha’s path, but she couldn’t find the requisite control to beat Alexander one-on-one.
But Celtic were making plenty of chances.
On 61 minutes, Celtic had the ball back in the net. However, a clear offside stopped the Hoops doubling their lead. Within seconds, it could’ve been erased entirely. Fulutudilu found herself beating Celtic defenders for fun, before forcing a save from Johnstone that should really have been rebounded in.
The game continued at breakneck pace. Glasgow City, despite having decent possession, just couldn’t play cohesively. Celtic FC Women constantly pressed, stopping City from building any kind of momentum.
Jacynta nearly had a chance to make up for her earlier opportunity. Olivia Chance slalomed defenders and nearly played the perfect ball, but there was just a little too much on it. Alexander was forced into yet another intervention.
More drama followed. Rachael Johnstone was relieved to see a header hit the bar, after some uncharacteristically sloppy play at the back.
The pressure continued. Alexander, an absolute stand-out for City, was called upon time and again as Celtic FC Women pressured for a second.
In the closing stages, it was Tegan Bowie who troubled Alexander’s goal, not able to find the space to chip it over the City goalkeeper. It would’ve been richly deserved for Celtic FC Women, who put pressure on despite the narrow lead.
Celtic FC Women pick up first trophy since 2010 against quality opposition
Again, this wasn’t meant to happen. The momentum was all with Glasgow City. A team with 15 league titles, a side more than accustomed to the big occasion.
But Alonso’s aggressive game plan and a supreme effort from Celtic FC Women took the SWPL Cup to Paradise, a first trophy win since 2010.
The decision to turn professional was already more than vindicated.
But this? This was as sweet as it gets and so richly deserved.
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