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  • Late goals see dominant Celts progress to League Cup last-four

    Late goals see dominant Celts progress to League Cup last-four

    By: Mark Henderson on 21 Sep, 2016 21:40

  • Betfred League Cup quarter-final
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    CELTIC...2
    (Forrest 83, Dembele 90)

    ALLOA...0

    PERSISTENCE paid off for Celtic after late goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele saw them see off a spirited Alloa Athletic in a completely one-sided contest and book their spot in the League Cup semi-finals.

    The Hoops bombarded Jack Ross’ side from the first whistle but a mixture of superb goalkeeping from Neil Parry and some wasteful finishing saw the game remain goal-less as the game entered the final 10 minutes

    But Forrest’s run and shot finally broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, much to the relief of home crowd, and Dembele's emphatic finish sealed the Bhoys’ place in tomorrow’s (Thursday) draw for the last-four of the competition.

    Jozo Simunovic made his first Celtic start since January 23, having returned to action for the Scottish champions as a second-half substitute Sunday’s 2-2 draw away to Inverness Caley Thistle.

    The inclusion of the Croat was one of five changes to the team that lined up in the Highlands, with Craig Gordon returning between the sticks for the first time since the UEFA Champions League play-off away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva last month.

    Kolo Toure, Stuart Armstrong and Forrest also came into the team, while Dorus De Vries, Erik Sviatchenko, Cristian Gamboa, Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair all dropped out.

    Celtic could have been ahead within 30 seconds as they immediately took the game to their League One opponents. Forrest sped down the left, cut inside the box and then picked out Tom Rogic, whose shot was saved by Neil Parry.  

    It was one-way traffic in the opening stages as the Hoops kept pouring forward – Dembele headed Lustig’s cross over, Kieran Tierney drove straight at Parry and Rogic was unable to keep a half-volley down.

    Parry was called into action again in the 13th minute, reacting swiftly to make a low save after Dembele had flicked Lustig’s cut-back towards the far corner.   

    Former Celtic youngster Greig Spence registered the Wasps’ first shot on goal in the 15th minute with an ambitious effort from distance but Gordon was equal to it.  

    In the 25th minute, somehow the visitors survived as Celtic had another flurry of chances. First, Parry came to his team’s rescue when he blocked Forrest’s close-range effort, before defender Andy Graham made a last-ditch block to deny Dembele after he had met Tierney’s low cutback.

    The young left-back has been full of vigour from the kick off, rampaging forward at every opportunity. Just before the half-hour mark, he almost opened the scoring with a thunderous half-volley from the angle of the box that crashed off the bar.

    Armstrong and Rogic tried in vain from long-range but still the breakthrough remained elusive as half-time approached. And there was further frustration for the Bhoys and Forrest in particular after he spurned a golden chance. Lustig brilliantly picked out the winger in space in the box but he could only steer his shot wide with the outside of his right foot.

    For all Celtic’s incessant pressure, Gordon, who moments earlier had been booked for fouling Spence outside the area, had to make a smart save from Ben Gordon after the centre-half had connected with Waters’ free-kick just before the break, leaving the scores even at the interval.  

    Scott Sinclair was introduced for Roberts at the start of the second half and the 27-year-old only took three minutes to show his shooting skills.

    Cutting in from the left, he eventually took aim from 20 yards and his powerful shot flashed inches wide of the post. Thrusting forward from defence, Simunovic tried something similar shortly after but his attempt flew high and wide.

    When the normally reliable Sinclair endured the same fate following Forrest’s cutback moments later, it looked as though it could be one of ‘those’ nights.

    Even when the Hoops did carve a way through the battling Alloa backline, they were coming up against a keeper in inspired form. Breaking quickly from an Alloa corner, Armstrong found Rogic, who fed the ball through for Dembele but Parry was out quickly and blocked the striker’s lofted effort

    Simunovic headed wide from Sinclair’s corner, Tierney dragged a shot wide and Rogic was booked for simulation when he looked to have been clipped in the box by Jim Goodwin. Armstrong and Rogic were off target from long-range and Forrest saw a low shot saved by Parry as Alloa continued their heroic defence.

    Ryan Christie entered the fray for Simunovic to add further firepower but still Alloa held out, with Parry producing another superb stop at his near post from Forrest.

    But the winger and Celtic finally got the rewards for their utter dominance. Released down the right by Christie’s cross-field pass, Forrest drove into the box and found the corner of the net with his left foot.

    And there was still time for Dembele to hammer in a second goal as the clock ticked down, the French hit-man leaving Graham for dead and smashing the ball into the top corner.      

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Toure, Simunovic (Christie 70), Tierney; Armstrong, Brown, Rogic (Sviatchenko 85); Roberts (Sinclair 46), Dembele, Forrest
    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Gamboa, Henderson

    ALLOA (4-5-1) Parry; Taggart, Gordon, Graham, Waters; Cawley (Holmes 78) Goodwin (Longworth 84) Robertson, Kirkpatrick; Flannigan, Spence
    Not Used: McDowall, Wilson, Hoggan, Marr, Scullion

    Website Man of the Match: Kieran Tierney

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