Craig Beattie's last-minute penalty earned Hearts an unlikely 2-1 win over Celtic at Hampden Park yesterday and set up a meeting with Hibernian, the first Edinburgh derby in the Scottish Cup final since 1896. Celtic's assistant manager, Alan Thompson, was furious, claiming his side had been "done" by referee Euan Norris.
Thompson, whose team were seeking a double after securing the league title the weekend before, felt the spot-kick, awarded when Norris judged Joe Ledley to have handled Marius Zaliukas's shot, was the second time his team had been denied a cup success by an official. Celtic's manager, Neil Lennon, caused controversy last month when he accused the referee Willie Collum of making "a criminal decision" by refusing to give a stoppage-time penalty in the League Cup final against Kilmarnock.
"Yet again we feel like we've been done," said Thompson of yesterday's decision, which was made three minutes after Gary Hooper had equalised Rudi Skacel's second-half opener for Hearts. "The League Cup final, we had a stonewall penalty [not given]."
Lennon stormed on to the pitch after the match to confront Norris but Thompson refused to say what was said. "What happened in the tunnel stays between us and the referee," Thompson said.
Celtic nearly went behind early on. The defender Kelvin Wilson's under-hit back-pass was seized upon by Stephen Elliott but the goalkeeper Fraser Forster reacted quickly to repel the threat. Lennon's side might have taken the lead just before the interval, when Michael Lustig's teasing cross was met by Ki Sung-Yeung. The South Korean's close-range header came crashing back off the post, from six yards out. Celtic rued that miss when, two minutes after half-time, Skacel beat the offside trap and rounded Forster to put Hearts ahead.
It was a case of déjà vu for Ki soon after as he again found himself unmarked at the back post and saw a header come flying back off the upright. But his side were not to be denied. Hooper made Celtic's pressure count as he headed in from the edge of the six-yard box, from Charlie Mulgrew's cross.
Right at the end of the match, Zaliukas's shot came off Ledley's hand, giving Beattie the chance to fire Hearts into the final on 19 May, and their fans into dreamland.