Celtic's dreams of a domestic treble are over after St. Mirren sent them crashing out the Scottish Cup with a 1-0 quarter-final win. A second-half Billy Mehmet penalty was enough to seal the shock win, their first over Celtic in nearly 20 years, just a week after the Buddies has been on the wrong end of a seven goal mauling by the Parkhead side in the league.
The win sends St. Mirren into the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1987, the year they last won the competition, and keeps their unbeaten record at the New St. Mirren Park intact. It means Old Firm rivals Rangers, who take on Hamilton at Ibrox on 8 March, are the only team who can now complete a clean sweep of domestic trophies. Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said his side deserved to be knocked out.
"It is hard to take, but we just didn't play well enough to go through to the next round," he said. "The weather meant we could not move about well, but the fact is they played better than us."
St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson was delighted to get to the semi-finals of the competition. "I thought every single one of them were outstanding," he said. "I'm delighted for everyone connected with the club. I've told the boys to enjoy the moment, but not to get too high."
With a point to prove after last weekend's thrashing in the league, St. Mirren started strongly with Garry Brady the first to test Artur Boruc after just 90 seconds. The midfielder fired in a vicious shot from the right, which the Polish keeper managed to beat out and Steven Thomson's follow-up was blocked by Stephen McManus.
It only took a few minutes for Celtic to adapt to the blustery conditions before they had their first chance in the sixth minute. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink was at full stretch when he connected with an Andreas Hinkel cross at the back post, but he fired his shot well over the bar from an awkward angle. Scott McDonald thought he had given Celtic the lead in the 14th minute when he glanced home a header from Shunsuke Nakamura's cross from the right, but the Australian's effort was ruled offside.
St. Mirren's defence looked to have learned lessons from their heavy defeat at Parkhead and when Nakamura fired in an in-swinging free-kick from the left in the 43rd minute, defender Mo Camara was there to clear the danger. Celtic started the second-half with more purpose going forward and in the 51st minute Aiden McGeady fired in a long-range effort which keeper Chris Smith had covered as it went wide of the post.
But it was St Mirren who took the lead in the 55th minute through a Mehmet penalty. Craig Dargo's mazy run took him past McManus, but the Celtic captain then hauled the forward down in the box, which earned him a booking. Mehmet took the resulting penalty and he calmly sent Boruc the wrong way to make it 1-0. In the 73rd minute, Dargo's acrobatic volley at the far post from a Brady corner was cleared off the line by Spaniard Marc Crosas.
With four minutes remaining, McDonald found himself with space in the box and sent in a low shot through a number of St. Mirren defenders, but the keeper got down to make the save. Vennegoor of Hesselink nearly equalised for Celtic in the 88th minute when he connected well with a Nakamura corner from the right, but his bullet header was straight at Smith who did well to hold on to it. Despite pressure from Celtic, the Buddies held on to record a famous victory over the Old Firm giants.