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  • Dembele at the double as Celtic reach the Scottish Cup semi-finals

    Dembele at the double as Celtic reach the Scottish Cup semi-finals

    By: Mark Henderson on 03 Mar, 2018 14:28

  • Scottish Cup quarter-finals
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, March 3, 2018

    CELTIC...3
    (Dembele 63, 70, Edouard 88)

    MORTON...0

    MOUSSA Dembele bagged a second-half brace to help Celtic see off Morton in Paradise and send them through to the Scottish Cup semi-finals, keeping their hopes alive of back-to-back trebles.

    After a goal-less first period, the striker opened the scoring with a powerful header from Tom Rogic’s cross and he sealed the victory from the penalty spot after he had been fouled in the box by Michael Doyle.  

    As the clock ticked down, Odsonne Edouard put the gloss on what was ultimately a comfortable win for Brendan Rodgers’ side when he forced the ball home after good work from James Forrest.

    Having recovered from an injury he had picked up in the winter training camp, Marvin Compper came into make his debut in the only change from the team that beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie last weekend, with Mikael Lustig dropping to the bench.

    He lined up on the left of a back-three alongside Jozo Simunovic and Kristoffer Ajer, and the Bhoys were forced into some defensive work inside the opening 60 seconds as Gary Oliver threatened to fasten on to a stray pass, but Ajer was alert to the danger.

    The Championship club had come into the contest on a fine run of form, losing only once in eight games in all competitions, and they showed plenty of spirit and confidence in the opening exchanges. And as Celtic took time to discover their rhythm, experienced midfielder Gary Harkins curled a free-kick wide for the visitors following a foul on Oliver.

    Eventually, the Hoops started to stamp their authority on the game, and Thomas O’Ware had to clear Dembele’s goal-bound header off his line after the striker had met James Forrest’s hanging cross.  

    Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair had efforts blocked and Rogic curled over as the champions grew in ascendency and forced Jim Duffy’s side into a deep defensive shell. It was now mostly one-way traffic, though Harkins did get a drive from distance on target for the Cappielow club, which was comfortable for De Vries.

    Back came the Bhoys, and Simunovic headed into the side-netting from a corner, before Rogic forced Derek Gaston into a superb one-handed save from the edge of the area. The Australian internationalist was also narrowly off target with a volley from an acute angle as the game remained deadlocked at the interval.

    Odsonne Edouard replaced Sinclair at the start of the second half as Brendan Rodgers sought a different attacking dimension, and the striker had a golden chance to open the scoring within two minutes of his introduction – Dembele’s shot dropped invitingly for him inside the box but he couldn’t beat Gaston.

    Moments later, Edouard reached the byline and picked out Dembele, who took an extra touch instead of pulling the trigger first time and was crowded out. Edouard was certainly making a difference but the next chance fell the way of the away side as Andrew Murdoch shot narrowly wide from 18 yards.  

    Having upped the tempo and playing with more purpose, the cup holders were now carving out clearer chances and Gaston was called into action again to push Ntcham’s powerful effort behind for a corner.

    Just beyond the hour-mark, the Hoops finally broke the Greenock side’s brave resistance. Rogic dug out a deep cross from the right and Dembele rose highest to bullet home a header via the underside of the bar.

    Goal number two soon followed. Dembele was sent tumbling by Doyle as he burst into the box and referee John Beaton pointed the spot. The Frenchman picked himself up, before confidently dispatching the penalty high into the net.  

    That extinguished Morton’s hopes and the hosts had further opportunities to add to their tally, with Edouard lashing inches over and Dembele having a header clawed away by Gaston as he came close to claiming a treble.

    But Gaston could do nothing to prevent Celtic adding a third in the closing stages as Edouard was rewarded for his impressive second-half showing, the forward blasting into the net via a slight deflection off Doyle.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) De Vries; Ajer, Simunovic, Compper (McGregor 83); Forrest, Brown, Ntcham, Tierney; Rogic (Musonda 68), Sinclair (Edouard 46); Dembele.
    Not Used: Bain, Roberts, Lustig, Kouassi

    MORTON (4-4-2) Gaston; Doyle,O’Ware, Lamie, Russell;  Tidser (McHugh 78), Harkins, Murdoch, Ross (Iredale 87); Tiffoney, Oliver
    Not Used: Brennan, Strapp, Langan, Purdue

    Website Man of the Match: Moussa Dembele

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