It was crazy – Angus MacDonald goes through the wringer at Hampden

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024

Aberdeen’s stand-in captain Angus MacDonald reflected on a “crazy” Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic at Hampden which saw him experience emotional extremes.

The Dons led through an early Bojan Miovski goal but MacDonald’s mistake allowed Hoops striker Kyogo Furuhashi to race clear on goal, with Nicolas Kuhn finally levelling.

Substitute James Forrest put Celtic ahead in the 63rd minute before Dons substitute Ester Sokler levelled in the 90th minute.

Matt O’Riley fired Celtic ahead in extra time but MacDonald atoned for his costly earlier error when he headed in the leveller in the 119th minute to take the game to penalties.

The 31-year-old former Barnsley, Hull and Rotherham defender scored his spot-kick and while Celtic keeper Joe Hart hit the post with the Hoops’ fifth penalty, he then saved from Killian Phillips to ensure a 6-5 shoot-out win and a final date on May 25 against Rangers or Hearts – Hart’s last game before his retirement from football.

“I hold my hands up for the mistake because I gifted them a goal after 15 minutes,” said MacDonald.

“But to score the equaliser in the last minute of extra time then score a penalty, it was crazy.

“With the way the game had panned out I thought we’d go on to win it.

“When I scored it was a great feeling, especially for my family. But it just wasn’t to be.

“It’s 50-50 when it gets to penalties, isn’t it? The boys did well to get it that far and we had our chances to win it. On another day they would go in.

“We are disappointed for the fans today because they have followed us everywhere this season.

“We have to take the positives from the game, we can’t let our standards drop now.

“We have five cup finals now and if we can cause those teams the problems we caused Celtic we’ll be fine.”

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    Los Blancos secured their 15th success in the competition thanks to goals late in the game from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior. 

    But Sabitzer played a starring role as Austria roared back from their defeat to France in their opening game of the competition, beating Poland 3-1 to bring it down to the final matchday. 

    Austria face the Netherlands in Berlin next Tuesday to conclude their Group D campaign, and know a win could see them finish top or second. 

    A draw or defeat could also leave Ralf Rangnick's side with a good chance of progressing as one of the four best third-placed teams. 

    "The possibilities then really open up," Sabitzer said.

    "I know that from the Champions League, especially this season. Once you're on a run in the knockout phase anything can happen.

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  • The Numbers Game: England desperate to build momentum against Slovenia ahead of last 16 The Numbers Game: England desperate to build momentum against Slovenia ahead of last 16

    England know a win, but more importantly, a performance is needed when they face Slovenia in Cologne on Tuesday. 

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    This time they were punished on Thursday when Morten Hjulmand's effort from distance levelled proceedings, with Denmark perhaps unfortunate to not claim all three points. 

    Many involved with England have already acknowledged they must improve and alterations are expected in an attempt to build momentum heading into the last 16, should they get there. 

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    England are expected to win and top Group C, with the Opta supercomputer handing them a dominant 75.5% chance of getting the job done in Cologne.

    Slovenia are predicted a meagre 10.4% likelihood of claiming a maiden triumph against their opponents in the same data-led simulations, with a draw forecast slightly higher at 14.1%. 

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    Slovenia have failed to win any of their six matches against England across all competitions (D1 L5). Greece and fellow Group C side Denmark are the only opponents they have faced on more occasions (seven) without ever winning a single match.

    Yet Matjaz Kek may fancy an upset here as the normally resolute England defence has come under fire at Euro 2024. The Three Lions have faced five more shots than they have attempted in Germany (17 shots, 22 faced).

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    England are also averaging just 8.9 shots per game at the Euros under Southgate (80 in nine games). Going into Matchday 3, that is the lowest shots per game any nation has had under a manager to take charge of them in more than five matches at the European Championship on record (since 1980).

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

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  • Kane hits back at criticism as England captain urges pundits to support squad Kane hits back at criticism as England captain urges pundits to support squad

    Harry Kane insists he is fully fit and firing at Euro 2024 as the England captain reminded pundits of their responsibility, suggesting players "do hear" their scrutiny.

    The Bayern Munich talisman was withdrawn in the second half as England were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Denmark on Tuesday.

    Kane opened the scoring after just 18 minutes in that frustrating showing but has struggled to make a decisive impact in Germany, after also failing to deliver in England's opening 1-0 win over Serbia.

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