First and foremost, congratulations to Celtic Under 13s on winning the Scottish Cup: similarly, commiserations to Hearts for missing out, albeit it was a fantastic achievement to get to their third successive Scottish Cup final.
Whilst a 2-0 result sounds decisive, the game was in reality a tight affair.
Celtic did have more shots on goal (by 19 to 9) and one may argue this, on paper, that this proves the old 'if you don't shoot you won't score" cliche.
Realistically though, Celtic know that the six Hearts shots that were on target were a lot more threatening than some of the long range attempts their own players attempted. Jade Baillie had a phenomenal game in goals - she dominated her penalty area as well as making numerous key saves. Similarly, Hearts had six corners and two free kicks that were well dealt with by the Celtic goalkeeper.
That's not to say the Celtic goalkeeper kept Celtic in the game by any means. They defended extremely well, and Hearts striker Naomi Welch is a real handful.
Going forward, the new Scottish Cup champions did always look threatening. Hearts' vigilant back-line only gets to such a high level through lots of hard work in training and many games played together. As a result, Hearts - up until the last five minutes - managed to keep Celtic's potent looking strike force at bay.
Just as Celtic scored, the game was looking like it was heading for extra-time and possibly even penalties - just because the sides were constantly cancelling each other out.
When Gabrielle Higgins came off the bench to turn home Celtic's opener it came from Hearts' first and only piece of slack defending the entire match.
Tired bodies and tired minds resulted in Hearts switching off for just a split second, but it still meant wide player Lauren Davidson managed to get unmarked into the box. Whilst a great recovering tackle blocked Davidson's initial strike, Hearts couldn't clear their lines and Higgins made them pay.
Celtic will see Kathleen McGovern's clincher as the cherry on top of a cake full of wonderful icing, but Hearts would view it as a sucker punch below the belt. It came from a corner - through a sea of bodies McGovern blasted it emphatically into the roof of the net with only a minute or two remaining.
Celtic were content to see the game out in Hearts' half after the second goal. They won four of their ten corners at 2-0, which as you can imagine came as a result of a dejected Hearts side unable to struggle on and fully clear the ball away.
Celtic scored their goals at the perfect time, with only a few minutes left. For that, they deserved victory for finishing their chances.
If Hearts had managed to break down the seemingly invincible Celtic goalkeeper/ defence and grabbed the first goal, it could have been a completely different game.
A typical final complete with a gritty midfield battle, the game went right down to the wire and could have went either way. The high number of tackles in key areas from both teams backs this up.
Statistically, this was a close game. As it was, Hearts have narrowly lost in a Scottish Cup final for third consecutive season. However, whilst this trophy evaded them, this was their only defeat this year and they didn't do too shabbily to win the league and League Cup double. All in all, the curtain's fell on a still hugely successful Jambo's season.
As for Celtic, a hard fought victory. 2-0 probably does make it sound less close than the game actually was, but that is irrelevant - and they won't care either. Tactically, they were superb, and they ramped up the pressure at the right time to put a tiring Hearts side to the sword. For that, they deserve all the praise in the world.
Lastly, as I'd said at the start, congratulations to both sides for fighting out a memorable Scottish Cup final, that will live long in these player's memories.
|Free kicks won: 2||Free kicks won: 2|
|Fouls conceded: 2||Fouls conceded: 2|
|Corners: 6||Corners: 10|
|Shots off target: 3||
Shots off target: 11
|Shots on target: 6||Shots on target: 8|