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Football | Europe

Gary Teale © Gallo Images

St Mirren end Celtic's treble hopes



St Mirren ended Celtic's hopes of a domestic treble as they progressed to the Scottish League Cup final with a well-deserved 3-2 win at Hampden on Sunday.

On-loan Portuguese forward Esmael Goncalves scored just eight minutes into his debut for St Mirren as he stabbed home Conor Newton's cross before Gary Hooper equalised seconds before the break.

Charlie Mulgrew then saw his 49th minute penalty saved after Jim Goodwin had handled in the box before conceding one at the other end that Paul McGowan buried to restore St Mirren's lead in the 64th minute.

Former Rangers striker Steven Thompson then smashed a superb volley past stand-in keeper Lukasz Zaluska in the 69th minute.

Mulgrew fired a 20-yard drive beyond Samson with the last kick of the game four minutes into stoppage time but it was the Buddies who were celebrating as they ended a run of eight straight defeats against Celtic and progress to meet Hearts in March's final.

The win finishes Neil Lennon's dream of leading the Hoops to their first clean sweep of trophies in 12 years and completes a hat-trick of Hampden disappointments for the Celtic manager following last season's defeats to Kilmarnock and Hearts in the League Cup final and Scottish Cup semifinal respectively.

Goncalves made an instant impact as he fired the Buddies into a shock lead.

A quick break saw the ball worked out to Newton and his chip into the box was prodded home by the Portuguese winger.

Hooper came close to levelling matters in the 22nd minute when Goodwin misjudged the flight of Brown's long ball forward and the English striker was able to nick in and fire a half-volley off the top of the crossbar.

The bar was to deny Celtic again in the 28th minute when Georgios Samaras clipped the top of the upright with a header after he beat David van Zanten to Matthews' cross.

The Buddies were to be denied taking a lead into the break when Hooper equalised on the stroke of halftime. Lassad Nouioui fed the ball to Brown in the inside right channel and his cross was buried at the far post by the in-demand striker.

Celtic were presented with a chance to take the lead just four minutes into the second half when they were awarded a penalty after Lassad's shot hit the arm of Goodwin in the box.

Mulgrew took the spot kick but keeper Craig Samson guessed the correct way and dived low to his right to make a superb one-handed save to deny him.

Mulgrew's day got worse as he gave away the penalty that restored St Mirren's lead when he blocked Teale's fiercely struck shot from point blank range with his arms.

McGowan stepped up and sent Zaluska the wrong way as he buried his spot kick into the bottom right-hand corner.

A sensational strike from Thompson made it 3-1 in the 69th minute. McAusland's cross from the right was missed by the Celtic defence but Thompson met it perfectly to smash a right-foot volley beyond Zaluska from 12 yards out.

Mulgrew flashed a header wide before sending a long range consolation strike past Samson four minutes into stoppage time.

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