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Ross County boss Jim McIntyre feared a thrashing by Celtic after the Hoops took a first-minute lead in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden Park before the Staggies came back to win 3-1.
Winger Gary Mackay-Steven scored before a minute had elapsed and McIntyre thought of the 8-1 hammering Ronny Deila's men had handed out to Hamilton in the Ladbrokes Premiership recently.
As the Highland club wobbled, goalkeeper Scott Fox had a couple of saves before Hoops defender Efe Ambrose was sent off by referee Craig Thomson in the 13th minute for fouling striker Alex Schalk in the box.
Martin Woods levelled from the penalty spot and it turned out to be the turning point in the game as Celtic's hopes of a treble ended.
Staggies defender Paul Quinn, making his second debut for County after joining last week following his release from Aberdeen, headed the underdogs into the lead three minutes after the interval with Schalk adding a third in the 63rd minute with a thunderous drive.
Fox saved a Leigh Griffiths penalty as the Staggies battled with some determination for their place in the March 13 final against Hibernian.
Asked how he felt about losing such an early goal, an "absolutely delighted" McIntyre said: "You think it this is going to be a long day, without a shadow of doubt. We were set up to be stiff and hard to break down and it was a really poor goal we gave away.
"You know you need to give nothing away in the next 10 minutes.
"A combination of desperate defending and also our goalkeeper had to make a couple of saves, because if it goes two and three, you seen what happened to Hamilton in the league.
"Celtic are capable of that on their day and we had to ride that spell out.
"For the next 10 minutes we had to hang in there and Fox had to make a couple of saves, then we got a wee bit of belief back by making passes and we got a shot at goal which let us know we are in the semi-final and we need to have a go.
"And scoring after 13 minutes was crucial. Obviously it was a bonus that it was a last man and a red card so that let us settle down again.
"I felt we had the toughest task in the two semi-finals, taking on the champions and we got off to the worst possible start.
"It was a fantastic result, I haven't had time to think where it ranks but it will mean a lot more if we go on and win it."
Hoops boss Deila took responsibility for another semi-final disappointment - Celtic were knocked out of the William Hill Scottish Cup at the last-four stage by Inverness last season - but when asked if he was worried about his job, he replied: "I'm not worried about anything. I've got big ambitions and I'm as disappointed as everyone else.
"Cups are tough things as you saw last year and you see this year as well.
"Things can happen in one game and it happened again. We went out and we are very disappointed.
"But there is still a lot to play for. I see a team that can be really good here and I'm going to work really hard to get us where we want."
Deila claimed goalkeeper Craig Gordon had been blocked for County's second goal which followed a corner.
He said: "I think we started very well. The first 10 minutes was very good. We created three or four chances and we scored a beautiful goal.
"We had everything in our hands and then of course the red card changed everything again. Playing 80 minutes with 10 men made it hard for us.
"In my opinion it was a clear free-kick on Craig Gordon. He was taken out of the goal and he couldn't come back to it.
"Having said that it was poor defending from us and we got blocked out in the marking but in my opinion it was a free-kick to us.
"Then we have to go forward and they get one counter-attack and score. That made it hard for us.
"Scott Brown came on after that and we had more control of the midfield and attacked them more. We got a penalty and then again we made a mistake and when you do it is hard to win football matches."