SWPL Cup: Hibernian cruise to victory over Celtic to retain trophy

Hibs beat Celtic in SWPL Cup final
Hibernian eased past Celtic to win back-to-back SWPL Cup triumphs

Hibernian retained the SWPL Cup with an impressive 4-1 win over Celtic at Broadwood.

Kirsty Smith's stunning goal gave Hibs a dream start, but Ruesha Littlejohn levelled within a minute.

Lucy Graham restored Hibs' lead from close range before Rachel McLaughlan made it three with a tap-in just after the break.

Hibs continued to dominate and Rachael Small added a fourth 10 minutes from the end.

Head coach Chris Roberts has now guided Hibs to the last three domestic cups, as they also won the Scottish Cup last term.

The game did not take long to come to life with both sides scoring in the opening minutes.

Hibs full-back Smith found herself in space outside the box, spotted goalkeeper Megan Cunningham off her line, and sent a delightful effort high into the net.

Almost from the restart Celtic were level.

Hibs beat Celtic in SWPL Cup final
Lucy Graham (right) puts Hibs 2-1 up just before half-time

Cailin Michie struggled to deal with a diagonal pass and there was Littlejohn to coolly slot the ball into the far corner.

The pace was relentless. Littlejohn forced a save from distance before Hibs twice went close through Katey Turner.

First she volleyed into the side netting then she almost found the far corner with a low drive, only to be denied by a brilliant one-handed save from Cunningham.

Hibs always looked the more likely to get a second goal and it arrived in 34 minutes.

Jaclyn Poucel's effort was blocked by fellow American Darcy McFarlane but the ball broke to Chelsea Cornet, who picked out Graham for an easy finish.

Celtic almost repeated their trick of an instant equaliser but Natalie Ross' shot was blocked by Emma Brownlie.

At the other end Brownlie almost made it three, heading a free-kick off a post.

Hibs got their third a few minutes into the second half when Turner collected Abi Harrison's pass and picked out McLaughlan, who broke through the Celtic defence and knocked the ball into the net.

Hibs made it four with 10 minutes to go.

Lia Tweedie skipped past three players on the right hand side and cut it back for Harrison whose shot was blocked, but when the ball fell to Small she squeezed it in at the near post.

Amy Gallacher went close to adding a fifth that would have been harsh on Celtic.

'Reaping the rewards'

Chris Roberts
Hibernian boss Chris Roberts has won three successive domestic cups

Hibernian head coach Chris Roberts: "I'm so proud of the girls. It's unlike us to concede such a sloppy goal and to be fair I felt for the majority of the first half Celtic were on the front foot. The second half I thought they were great, when the third goal went in it relaxed us more and we kept the ball better.

"We gave a lot of players an opportunity at 16 and 17 and now we're reaping the rewards. It's testament to them how much desire they have to win things and three trophies now in the last 12 months and we definitely want to build on that."

Celtic head coach David Haley: "It was difficult to lose a goal straight after half-time. We told them not to take risks and they've tried a pass and it's not came off for us. That naturally deflated us, but first half I thought we were excellent. I don't think the score line reflects how the game was.

"We do just need to be a bit more clinical. We are getting closer, everybody can see that, they're not as one-sided as they were a couple of years ago. But we need to find a way of getting something what we did against Glasgow City (1-1 draw), getting a result, getting a draw, and then hopefully that will spur us on and give us more belief, but it just wasn't to be today."

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