Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal apologised after his blunder helped Celtic move further clear in the Betfred Cup semi-finals.
With his side trailing to a Scott Sinclair penalty, Zlamal fumbled Ryan Christie’s tame effort and could only scramble the ball straight to James Forrest, who slotted home.
The goal effectively killed off the contest and Christie added a spectacular goal to complete a 3-0 triumph at BT Murrayfield.
Zlamal said: “The second goal was mine. I think Michael Smith touched it a little bit but I have to catch it. I have to say sorry to all fans and to everybody.
“We are very disappointed. We felt that we had a big chance to be in the final, but to be honest Celtic were better.”
The Czech recovered from his mistake to pull off some great saves to keep the score down, most notably a one-handed stop from James Forrest.
“I was so focused on the game and mistakes are part of football,” the 32-year-old said. “It’s normal, everybody makes mistakes. I was focused on trying not to concede another goal. But Celtic were much better than us after the second goal.”
The second half proved to be a major anti-climax for the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders, who had made the short trip to Murrayfield in confident mood.
Hearts lost Steven Naismith to a knee problem early on, while Peter Haring and Clevid Dikomana are struggling to make Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby, but Zlamal vowed to bounce back.
“We have to forget this game,” he said. “Next game we play against Hibs and it’s a very important game for everybody. We keep going.
“We have a lot of injured players so it’s not good, but we have other good players who are waiting for a chance and now they can show it.”
Celtic defender Filip Benkovic delivered an assured display and revelled in the atmosphere.
The 21-year-old said: “I’m very proud and very happy we got into the final.
“When you come into the stadium and see these fans and the celebrations after the match, it’s priceless. I hope we did them proud and we will keep pushing hard and hope there will be more games and more wins like this in the future.”