Liam Scales hoping for strong end to season as Celtic aim to secure double

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Liam Scales surveyed a potentially glorious end to Celtic’s season following their epic Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final win over Aberdeen on Saturday, but knows there is still plenty of work to do.

A dramatic 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory over the Dons at Hampden Park followed a 3-3 draw and it booked the Hoops a place in the May 25 final against Rangers or Hearts, who face off at the national stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Parkhead side are three points clear of their Old Firm rivals at the top of the cinch Premiership with five post-split fixtures remaining, one of which is the visit of Rangers to Celtic Park.

Scales acknowledged the importance of momentum going into the business end of the season.

“We are coming in strong to the last part of the season and that’s the way we like it and that’s the way we want it to be,” said the Irish defender.

“With five games left in the league we want to try and put that to bed and then deal with the cup.

“It probably won’t be that simple but that’s the plan.”

Scales, who signed from Shamrock Rovers in August 2021, was on loan at Aberdeen last season and there was speculation about him possibly signing a permanent deal with the Granite City club.

However, the Republic of Ireland international became a regular starter for Celtic this season under returning boss Brendan Rodgers and he is looking to continue on in the same manner.

“I really enjoyed my time at Aberdeen and it is a great club,” he said.

“To break into the team here is brilliant.

“I’m delighted how the season has gone. We just need to finish the season strong in our last five league games leading into the cup final.”

Scales described the semi-final as “mental” and it came to a crescendo in the penalty shoot-out when goalkeeper Joe Hart hit the post with Celtic’s fifth penalty but then saved from Killian Phillips to confirm the win.

Celtic recovered from Bojan Miovski’s early goal to led through goals from Nicolas Kuhn and substitute James Forrest, before Dons substitute Ester Sokler levelled in the 90th minute.

Matt O’Riley fired Celtic ahead in extra-time but stand-in Dons captain Angus MacDonald made up for an earlier mistake that led to Celtic’s equaliser when he headed in the 119th minute.

Scales said: “The boys who took the penalties showed extreme mental strength and bravery to put them away. It was amazing.”

At 3-2 up in extra-time, Celtic defender Cameron Carter-Vickers thought he had given a penalty away for his tackle on Junior Hoilett inside the box and was relieved upon discovering that referee Don Robertson had awarded a foul to the Hoops for the Aberdeen substitute’s challenge on Celtic right-back Alistair Johnston seconds earlier.

Carter-Vickers said: “I didn’t see him until late. I thought it was given but when it wasn’t given I was happy.

“The referee just said it was a foul against Alistair Johnston. Obviously VAR checked it and I just said if you seen it on the pitch then stick with your decision please.”

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