“In training he probably is our best penalty taker,” Alistair Johnston

Alistair Johnston has revealed that Joe Hart was always going to be hitting the fifth spot-kick at the weekend in our wild clash with Aberdeen in this year’s Scottish Cup Semi-final.

The big ‘keeper stepped up to the plate when tensions were flaring.  Celtic, despite the contrived effort to undo all our hard work in going ahead in the match and then again in extra-time, had the chance to reach another domestic cup final.

Red-faced

These things rarely ever go to plan though and Joe was left somewhat red-faced when he dragged his penalty too far to the left and ended up hitting the post as a result.

It was a scenario that annoyed many of Celtic supporters at the time and left us all biting out nails in sheer nervousness and utter disbelief in equal measures. Hart’s Canadian full-back was less than impressed as that monumental pressure then fell de facto onto his shoulders to maintain our place in the tie. “I was just begging for the final whistle and then, of course, they scored,” Daily Record reports.

Relief when Joe made the save

“My first thought was, ‘I’m going to have to take a penalty. I’m just happy that thing went it. There was relief when Joe made the save.

“He had the chance to win and big Cameron Carter-Vickers said, ‘this is going to be a fairytale for Joe’. I said, ‘you can’t say that out loud, you’ve jinxed it!’

“Then, he hit the post. I knew I was going to take the sixth penalty and that I was next. Cheers mate! When he saved that final one it was relief. Joe is so good at those, he’s in great form.”

A distinctively different situation

It was a bold move on the day for Celtic, Rodgers and Hart, who could all well have been staring at a distinctively different situation had Alistair not converted his own pressurised spot-kick.

That one kept the Hoops alive on the day and it was to be Joe who would redeem himself in spectacular fashion, by stopping Crystal Palace loanee Killian Phillips merely moments after his own mishap from the 12-yard spot and Alistair’s subsequent conversion.

Johnston even admitted that the big stopper backs himself when it comes to penalties and is forever practicing up at Lennoxtown with the goalkeepers union.

Joe fancies himself as a penalty taker

He continued: “Joe fancies himself as a penalty taker so that will hurt his ego a little that he’s dragged that one. He thinks he’s hit it well. He was always down to take the fifth penalty, that was always the plan.

A case of ‘who wants one?

“They gave us the list straight away. After that it was a case of ‘who wants one?’ To be fair, that’s all keepers do in training sessions, take penalties into each other. I was actually pretty confident when he went up. I thought he was just going to hit it like a goal kick and rip one. I was a little surprised when he went for the corner because in training he probably is our best penalty taker.”

Paul Gillespie

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