St Johnstone end 130-year wait for Cup triumph
Edinburg: St Johnstone clinched the Scottish Cup for the first time in their 130-year history with a 2-0 win over Dundee United in a pulsating final at Celtic Park.
United had come close to taking the lead on the half hour mark when Ryan Dow`s flick came back off the post before Steven Anderson headed St Johnstone in front in first half stoppage time following a blunder from `keeper Radoslaw Cierzniak.
Nadir Ciftci almost had United on level terms minutes after the break as his free-kick nicked the inside of the bar while prolific Saints striker Stevie May had a goal ruled out after he bundled the ball over the line with his arm.
The game was being played at a terrific tempo with chances at either end before Steven MacLean fired home in the 84th minute to spark wild celebrations amongst the St Johnstone fans.
St Johnstone`s victory is their first major trophy success and means the past nine domestic cup competitions in Scotland have been won by eight different clubs.
"This is the pinnacle of my career," said jubilant Saints manager Tommy Wright.
"For us to win the Scottish Cup -- our first major trophy -- words can`t describe how I feel about it all because it`s so special for so many people."
A despondent Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara couldn`t hide his disappointment.
"I think today just wasn`t our day. We hit the post and the bar and to lose the goal just before half-time was a real body blow," McNamara said.
Saints keeper Alan Mannus made a nervous start to the final as he fumbled an early cross from Dow before the `keeper needlessly raced out of his box to head the ball clear just in front of Gary Mackay-Steven.
However, St Johnstone were showing more composure going forward and it took a fine fingertip save from Cierzniak to keep out a fierce James Dunne strike from the edge of the box.
David Wotherspoon was next to threaten for St Johnstone but after twisting and turning the midfielder saw his shot deflect off Gavin Gunning and straight to Cierzniak.
United had failed to test Mannus until the 32nd minute when only the post stopped them taking the lead.
Andrew Robertson sent a curling cross into the box where Dow applied the deftest of touches only to see his effort cannon off the base of the post before it was hacked clear.
The half looked to end goalless before a goalkeeping error handed Saints the lead in stoppage time.
Cierzniak was caught in no-man`s land as he flapped at Wotherspoon`s corner allowing Anderson time and space to send a looping header into the empty net.
United were almost on level terms four minutes into the second half when Cifti`s 20-yard free-kick hit the underside of the bar before bouncing down on to the line but keeper Mannus somehow managed to keep it out.
There were jubilant scenes amongst the St Johnstone fans three minutes later when May bundled the ball into the net but their celebrations were cut short when the goal was quickly chopped off.
Cierzniak made a fantastic save to keep May`s initial header out and the striker then used his hand to force the ball over the line.
May was booked for the offence after referee Craig Thomson initially looked to have signalled for a goal before consulting with his assistant referee.
From a United corner Wotherspoon ran almost the length of the pitch to fire in a shot that Cierniak did well to clear up field allowing Robertson to test Mannus with a low drive.
Ciftci came close for United before St Johnstone made sure of their place in history when MacLean made it 2-0 in the 84th minute.
May`s through ball took a deflection into the path of MacLean who slid into a challenge with the out-rushing Cierzniak and as the ball broke loose the striker reacted quickest to hook the ball into the empty net.