Celtic’s win in the 2019 Betfred Cup Final was almost all down to one man – Fraser Forster. He turned in a series of brilliant saves from Alfredo Morelos – including one from the penalty spot.
It was perhaps one of the best individual performances from a Celtic player in a cup final, but there was one 18 years ago which was perhaps just as good – Henrik Larsson’s hat-trick in the 2001 CIS Cup Final against Kilmarnock.
Here, we will look at which performance was better, Larsson’s or Forster’s.
HENRIK LARSSON vs KILMARNOCK, CIS CUP FINAL 2001
The circumstances of the 2001 and 2019 League Cup finals had one thing in common – Celtic were reduced to 10 men. It was Jeremie Frimpong in 2019, and Chris Sutton in 2001.
However, that is where the similarities end. Celtic dominated the 2001 league cup final, with one man in particular standing out – Henrik Larsson.
The Hoops striking superstar took the game by the scruff of the neck, giving the Hoops the lead before Sutton was sent-off.
The red card didn’t stop Larsson though. He added a second goal and a third goal to put the Hoops on the road to their first domestic treble in over 30 years.
Larsson’s third goal deserves a special mention, as he took the ball from just past the centre-circle, outpaced the last defender, and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to finish a sublime solo goal. All this just over a year after breaking his leg.
FRASER FORSTER vs RANGERS, BETFRED CUP FINAL 2019
Forster’s performance is in entirely different circumstances than Larsson’s. Celtic didn’t find themselves under the cosh against Kilmarnock in 2001, like the Hoops did for the vast majority of the Betfred Cup Final.
Thankfully Forster stood up to the task in front of him. Although most of the talk has been about Forster’s saves to deny Alfredo Morelos, his first save of the game, palming away Ryan Jack’s long-range shot, was arguably his best save of the entire game.
Forster was already a Celtic hero because of his performance against Barcelona in 2012, this performance will make him a Celtic legend.
Although Larsson’s hat-trick was superb, Celtic were never in danger of losing that cup final. They were against Rangers, and might well have done if not for Forster’s heroics. Therefore, Forster just edges out Larsson in the battle of the best individual performance from a Celtic player at Hampden Park.