Devastated Celtic playmaker Patrick Roberts has vowed to bounce back from the worst moment of his career.
The on-loan Manchester City man somehow failed to find the net in Sunday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers, missing an open goal from just six yards out.
It was an incredible blunder from the £12 million former Fulham youngster, and let Gers off the hook at a crucial point in the pulsating Old Firm clash, which the Ibrox men went on to win on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
Mark Warburton’s team were leading 1-0 when the ball dropped for Roberts after a Leigh Griffiths effort had come back off the post, but he blasted into the side-netting when it seemed easier to score.
The 19-year-old said: “I should be scoring that and I know I should be. In any other game I would be putting that away.
“It just came to me and I hit the side-netting. I was distraught.
“It happens in your career. You have bad moments and that is definitely my worst ever. It will probably be the worst I ever have.
“I wasn’t nervous before the game. I knew what it was going to be like to play against Rangers and knew what I had to do. It just wasn’t good enough from me.
“I will come back from this, though. Right now I’m very disappointed for myself and the team.”
Ladbrokes Championship winners Rangers twice took the lead through goals from Kenny Miller and Barrie McKay – only to be pegged back by the top-flight champions-elect as substitutes Erik Sviatchenko and Tom Rogic both netted.
But the Light Blues – who stuck impressively to their passing ethos – got the win their stylish play deserved when Rogic blazed his decisive spot-kick over the bar during the nerve-shredding shoot-out.
“It’s the worst possible way to go out of a semi-final – on penalties at Hampden to your rivals,” Roberts said. “We’re just distraught.
“But we have no complaints. We know it wasn’t good enough.”
Hoops boss Ronny Deila now faces serious questions over his leadership.
Celtic are on course for their fifth straight title but have struggled to assert their authority over Aberdeen, while Deila’s European record is dismal.
However, Roberts said the Norwegian’s players deserve a share of the blame.
“The manager has been great for me,” he said. “He’s played me and trusted in me. I’ve got nothing to say on his future.
“Do the players have to take responsibility? Yeah definitely. We know it wasn’t good enough (on Sunday).
“We need to pick our heads up, though, and win the league.”
As for the winners, Miller was delighted with the result, but reckons his side’s victory will not offer clues as to who will come out on top in next year’s league title joust.
“It was extra special,” the 36-year-old striker said. “A lot of people outside of Rangers never gave us a chance, but we were completely confident.
“The fact it went to penalties as well made it emotional. You’re standing there watching it with your heart pounding.
“You’re hoping your keeper makes a save, that your guys score. It was hard to watch.
“But we had full belief and I really felt it would be our day. We were the dominant side – there’s no getting away from that. We’re delighted.
“But I said before the game that no matter if we won, lost or drew, it didn’t mean we would or would not win the league next year. The gap has definitely closed, but I don’t think (Sunday’s) match will have any bearing on next year.”
Gers winger McKay was voted man of the match after his sensational extra-time strike, and Miller reckons his 21-year-old colleague is on his way to a Scotland call-up.
“Barrie was outstanding,” he said. “The little man was great all day. He was a constant threat with his driving runs and what a great strike for his goal.
“He will want to go and play at the highest level. A lot has been said about him and the national team this year.
“He’s going through the steps to becoming an international player. He’s playing with the under-21s and his next step is the full team. There is no doubt he’ll get his chance because there’s not too many players have his quality.”