David Raven was nearly substituted before scoring the goal that took Inverness into their first Scottish Cup final, says manager John Hughes.
Right-back Raven's goal three minutes from the end of extra time gave Caley Thistle a 3-2 win over 10-man Celtic.
"Raven's more defensive. I felt there was never going to be a better chance to beat Celtic, I didn't want to go to penalties," Hughes told BBC Scotland.
"Fortunately I didn't do it and David Raven came up with the goods."
Inverness were trailing 1-0 when Josh Meekings handled the ball in the box, an incident missed by referee Steven McLean.
Hughes admitted Meekings should have conceded a penalty and been sent off, but feels the furore has "taken a shine off what we did".
He added: "I said to them at half-time 'Our name's on the cup', our name was 100% on that cup with that kind of luck we carried in the first half.
"We matched Celtic, tactically we were spot on, and everybody's forgetting we scored two goals in open play. Not many teams do that against Celtic."
Celtic opened the scoring through Virgil van Dijk but Greg Tansey levelled from the penalty spot after the Parkhead side had goalkeeper Craig Gordon sent off.
Edward Ofere put Caley Thistle ahead and, after John Guidetti levelled, Raven grabbed a late winner.
"It's no surprise to me because the boys have had a wonderful season and we've had to put up with a lot," said Hughes.
"It just seems to galvanise us and we keep going."
Hughes fears he will lose "four or five players" after the final at Hampden on 30 May, including Aberdeen-bound Graeme Shinnie.
The Caley Thistle boss said his Aberdeen counterpart Derek McInnes "must have been sitting rubbing his hands", adding 23-year-old left-back Shinnie is "a machine".
"I've tipped him eventually to get in that Scotland set-up," he said. " I know there's a lot of good ones in front of him but he's a fantastic footballer, great engine, a real good footballer with a great belief.
"We're going to lose a few next year, but I just hope getting into the Scottish Cup final helps us along in terms of the budget."