Mar 18 2012 By Colin Paterson
SCOTTISH COMMUNITIES LEAGUE CUP FINAL:
CELTIC 0 KILMARNOCK 1
BIRTHDAY boy Dieter Van Tornhout scored the goal of his life to win the Scottish Communities League Cup for Kilmarnock.
The Belgian striker celebrated turning 27 by dispatching a Lee Johnson cross into the net with just six minutes remaining of Sunday’s final at Hampden.
Referee Willie Collum’s final whistle sparked scenes of celebration amongst the Killie faithful, who made the journey to Mount Florida in their thousands, and destroyed Celtic’s treble dreams.
Van Tornhout’s goal earned Killie their first piece of silverware in almost 15 years and revenge for the 3-0 League Cup Final defeat to Celtic 11 years ago.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon made one change to the side which thumped Dundee United in the quarter-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup last Sunday.
Greek striker Georgios Samaras dropped to the bench with centre-back Kelvin Wilson taking his place in the starting line-up.
Kilmarnock warmed up for their big day at Hampden with a 1-1 draw at Inverness Caledonian Thistle and gaffer Kenny Shiels made four changes to that team.
James Fowler, Garry Hay, son Dean and Paul Heffernan were all handed starting berths with Matthew Kennedy, David Silva and Danny Racchi missing out. On-loan Hoops defender Lewis Toshney was ineligible.
But there was almost disaster for Killie in the fourth minute. Mo Sissoko played a pass straight to Gary Hooper and only a fine block from Cameron Bell spared the central defender’s blushes.
Killie deployed a 4-3-3 formation which switched to a 4-5-1 when on the defensive with Shiels and Gary Harkins the wide attackers supporting Heffernan.
The midfield unit of Danny Buijs, Liam Kelly and Hay were getting through some hard work but injury forced an early substitution with Johnson replacing the injured Buijs.
Celtic lined up in a 4-4-2 shape but made tactical changes within the opening 20 minutes. Scott Brown moved from central midfield to the right-hand side with James Forrest brought over to the left flank.
Welshman Joe Ledley had started out on the left-hand side but moved to the centre of the park where he would partner Victor Wanyama.
Killie keeper Bell was called into action again in the 28th minute. Brown escaped a Hay tackle and crossed for Anthony Stokes whose powerful header was well saved.
Stokes then provided a valuable contribution at the other end. A Shiels corner found the head of Sissoko but his effort was swept clear by the Irish striker.
Bell was proving a dependable last line of defence for the hard-working Ayrshire outfit and he made a superb fingertip save after Brown unloaded from 25 yards.
Yet it was Killie who could have gone in front. A lovely move resulted in an opportunity for Heffernan but Fraser Forster ensured the contest remained goalless at the break.
Lennon made his first change of the afternoon in the 56th minute with central midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung replacing Thomas Rogne; Wanyama moved to the heart of the defence.
In the 62nd minute, Celtic should have opened the scoring. An unmarked Ledley accepted a Hooper pass on the edge of the box but his shot flew wide.
Two minutes later, Stokes sprung Killie’s offside trap to collect a through ball from Brown but, after cutting inside Michael Nelson, his final shot lacked power and was held by Bell.
The Rugby Park men were defending for their lives and they had Bell to thank again in the 71st minute when he leapt to push over Wanyama’s header from a Ki corner.
With Celtic on top, fresh legs were ordered by Shiels with Van Tornhout coming on for Harkins, who had put in a terrific shift.
The substitute went on to partner Heffernan in attack with Shiels granted a free role behind the front two in a 4-3-1-2 shape.
And the change proved inspired in the 84th minute as Killie sensationally broke the deadlock.
Patient build-up saw Ben Gordon thread a pass to Johnson, who caught Ki sleeping, and his pinpoint cross was headed home from six yards by Van Tornhout who had drifted in behind Wilson.
The Ayrshire faithful could scarcely believe their eyes as the ball bulged the back of Forster’s net but the scoreboard confirmed they were leading with a handful of minutes to play.
Man of the match Bell denied Samaras and Kris Commons in quick succession.
Killie had one hand on the cup but knew it was not over yet.
Celtic had decent claims for a penalty rejected in the second minute of injury-time by Collum who cautioned Stokes for simulation after he went down under a challenge from Nelson.
It was to be Celtic’s last chance. When the full-time whistle blew a couple of minutes later, it sealed the first League Cup triumph in Killie's history.
Celtic: Forster; Matthews, Wilson , Rogne (Ki 56), Mulgrew; Forrest, Brown, Wanyama, Ledley (Commons 86); Stokes, Hooper (Samaras 80).
Subs not used: Cha Du Ri, Zaluska(gk).
Kilmarnock: Bell ; Nelson, Sissoko (Kroca 86), Gordon; Buijs (Johnson 20), Kelly, Hay; Shiels, Harkins (Van Tornhout 73); Heffernan.
Subs not used: Dayton , Letheren(gk).
Referee: Willie Collum.