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  • Hampden awaits as Celts book Scottish Cup semi-final place

    Hampden awaits as Celts book Scottish Cup semi-final place

    By: Tony Connelly on 02 Mar, 2019 19:22

  • Scottish Cup
    Quarter-final
    Saturday, March 2, 2019
    Easter Road, Edinburgh

    CELTIC…2
    (Forrest 62, Brown 75)

    HIBERNIAN…0

    CELTIC booked their place in the Scottish Cup semi-final with a 2-0 win against Hibernian at Easter Road. The Hoops have struggled against Hibs in the capital in recent years but Neil Lennon’s side outplayed their opponents to come away with a convincing victory.

    James Forrest fired Celtic ahead in the second half with a wonderful strike from the edge of the area. Scott Brown then put the game to bed with a powerful shot into the top corner.

    The Scottish champions hadn’t won at Easter Road since January 2014. Neil Lennon was Celtic manager then and the Irishman’s team gave Celtic fans a night to remember tonight as they secured their place in yet another Scottish Cup semi-final.

    Celtic immediately set about their opponents and created the first goal scoring chance just a couple of minutes after the referee had blown for kick-off.  

    Odsonne Edouard slipped a pass into the path of Oliver Burke who shot across goal with his left foot from inside the box. The keeper saved though and the danger was cleared before Scott Sinclair could pounce on the rebound.

    Despite the buoyant start Celtic struggled to built any momentum from the early opportunity and it wasn’t until later in the half that they began to carve openings in the Hibs’ defence.

    Celtic had prolonged periods of possession inside their opponent’s half but the home side were effective in closing the spaces when not in possession.

    Paul Heckingbottom’s side left no room down the channels for either James Forrest or Scott Sinclair to work with. Forrest did manage to deliver a cross into the box for Edouard though. With a drop of the shoulder he floated a cross onto the box for Edouard, but the Frenchman was pressured by two defenders and couldn’t generate enough power with his header.

    The best chance of the half stemmed from a surging Scott Brown drive forward from the halfway line. The Celtic captain cut the ball inside to Forrest who played a through pass to Edouard. He dribbled into the box but appeared to stumble at the crucial moment just as the keeper was rushing off his line.

    Celtic quickly created a second opportunity shortly afterwards when Kieran Tierney delivered an excellent cross in to the back post for Edouard. The striker timed his run well and was poised to tap the ball in at the back post but Ofir Marciano flew off his line to punch clear and Olly Burke’s quick fire volley sailed high over the crossbar.

    Both sides started the second half with a high tempo. Celtic were more assured in their attacking play while Hibs threatened on the counter attack.

    Neil Lennon tweaked his Celtic side following the restart by moving Burke out wide and bringing James Forrest into a more central midfield position. Burke’s pace proved troubling for Lewis Stevenson at left-back and the 21-year-old forward was able to deliver a good cross into the box for Edouard early on. The striker chested the ball down and readied a shot but the ball was stabbed clear before he could pull the trigger.

    The Celtic pairing were a constant danger for their opponents who looked increasingly unable to deal with their qualities. They linked up well to penetrate the Hibs defence when Edouard rolled the ball into the path of Burke with a deft backheel. Burke was brought down as he made for the penalty area but the referee waved play on.

    Moving Forrest into the centre of midfield proved to be an astute tactical decision by Neil Lennon after the Hoops winger fired Celtic into the lead with his 15th goal of the season. The 27-year-old picked up the ball 20-yards from goal, skipped past two players and rifled the ball into the top corner with his right foot from the edge of the area.

    Celtic seemed to tighten their hold on the game following the goal and piled the pressure on their opponents as they went in search of a second.

    It came just over 10 minutes later when Brown doubled Celtic’s lead with a wonderful strike into the top corner. The Hoops captain evaded two opposition players as he ran across the box and rocketed the ball into the top corner with a powerful right footed strike.

    Celtic’s dominance on the game grew as the final whistle approached and they continued to push for a third goal but the referee’s final whistle spared the home side who were ultimately outclassed by the defending champions.

    CELTIC: Bain; Lustig, Boyata (Toljan 84), Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Edouard, Forrest, Sinclair (Johnston 75); Burke (Henderson 89)
    Subs: Gordon, Hendry, Hayes, Weah

    HIBERNIAN: Marciano, Gray, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson, Milligan, Slivka, Omeonga (Shaw 76), Horgan (Mallan 64), Kamberi, McNulty
    Subs: Dabrowski, Bartley, Bigirimana, Mackie, Allan

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Brown

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