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  • Griffiths scores twice as Celts progress in the Scottish Cup

    Griffiths scores twice as Celts progress in the Scottish Cup

    By: Newsroom Staff on 10 Jan, 2016 17:22

  • Scottish Cup fourth round
    Stair Park, Stranraer
    Sunday, January 10, 2016

    STRANRAER...0

    CELTIC...3
    (Griffiths 18, 84 Cole 42,)

    LEIGH Griffiths bagged a brace and Carlton Cole scored on his first Celtic start of the season as the Hoops marched into the Scottish Cup fifth round with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Stranraer.

    Griffiths found the net from McGregor’s pass in the 18th minute to put the Bhoys ahead at a packed out Stair Park.

    As Ronny Deila’s side dominated, Cole headed in number two from Nir Bitton’s cross before the interval.

    Only the heroics of home goalkeeper Max Currie denied the Scottish champions further reward in the second half, before Griffiths plundered his 22nd goal of the season with six minutes left on the clock.

    Celtic will now take their place in Monday’s draw for the next round, with their treble dreams still intact. 

    Cole’s inclusion one of three changes made to the team that defeated Partick Thistle last week 1-0 in the Scottish Premiership.

    Logan Bailly replaced the suspended Craig Gordon between the sticks, while Griffiths, who came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner against the Jags, was restored to the starting XI after fully recovering from his calf injury. Tom Rogic and Nadir Ciftci were the players to drop out.

    It took the Scottish champions several minutes to adjust to the muddy pitch and blustery conditions at Stair Park, with Mark McGuigan firing over for the host after a cutback from the left.

    But the Hoops gradually started to impose themselves on proceedings, and Cole looked to have been denied a decent penalty shout in the 10th minute when he went down in the box under McGuigan’s challenge after a corner had only been partially cleared.

    Cole threatened again moments later after he had been picked out by Stefan Johansen in the box, a last-gasp challenge from Scott Rumsby preventing the striker from pulling the trigger.

    Johansen, finding space breaking forward from midfield, teamed up again with Cole down the inside right channel, but Currie was out quickly to avert the danger.   

    Celtic’s pressure paid off in the 18th minute, however, as Griffiths fired them into the lead. McGregor was the architect, darting in off the left flank and finding the in-form hit-man in the box and he made no mistake, burying a shot in the far corner.

    Stranraer, while showing plenty of endeavour, weren’t managing to threaten Bailly, with the visitors dealing ably with any crosses into the box. 

    At the other end, Ronny Deila’s men looked dangerous when they attacked, and Griffiths sent a rasping drive narrowly over from 18 yards after being supplied by McGregor.

    Cole then fastened onto Commons’ long ball over the top but Currie was to the rescue again for the League One outfit, racing from his line to make a timely tackle. 

    It was increasingly one-way traffic as the half progressed and Celtic increased their dominance of possession. Commons saw a lofted shot tipped over the bar by Currie and Kieran Tierney looked to be felled in the box as he attempted to reach Bitton’s cross, with McGuigan again the offender.  

    As the pressure continued, Currie made a superb double save from Griffiths to leave the Scotland internationalist holding his head in frustration.

    Following a lightning counter attack, Commons fed Griffiths, whose right-footed drive was palmed away by Currie and, when Cole knocked the ball back across goal for his strike partner, the Stranraer shot-stopper reacted brilliantly to get his hands to the shot.

    There was nothing he could, though, to prevent the Hoops doubling their advantage before the break. Bitton made a penetrative burst into the box and clipped the ball back from the byline and Cole rose highest at the far post to meet the cross  and score his first goal for the club. 

    The Bhoys were in complete control of the tie but nevertheless they went in search of further reward swiftly after the restart, with McGregor and Commons having shots blocked in quick succession.

    Johansen was next to come close. Weaving his way through the middle and leaving several players in his wake, he stabbed the ball under Currie but a goal-line clearance from Scott Robertson denied him a brilliant solo goal.

    When the ball was chipped back into the mix, Cole’s acrobatic effort was snatched out the air by Currie. Griffiths then let rip from distance, but Currie was well positioned to make the save. 

    Currie was the hero again for the hosts in the 67th minute, pushing over Griffiths’ acrobatic attempt from Bailly’s long clearance. When the resultant corner was only partially cleared, Commons blasted wide. 

    As Ronny Deila rang the changes in the closing stages, Stranraer got their first glimpse of goal. Steven Bell headed a corner back into the mix and Craig Malcolm was unable to capitalise from close-range, with Bailly gathering the ball on the line.

    Stung back into action, Celtic spurned further chances to add to their tally as Currie saved from Griffiths and Scott Allan, before Griffiths finally made it 3-0. Sent clear by Allan’s precise pass, he drilled beyond Currie as the away side finished on top 

    CELTIC (4-4-2) Bailly; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic, Tierney (Blackett 76); Commons (Rogic 74), Bitton, Johansen, McGregor, Cole (Allan 69) Griffiths
    Not Used: Fasan, Mackay-Steven, O’Connell, Forrest

    STRANRAER (4-4-1-1) Currie; Pettigrew, Rumsby, Bell, Dick; McGuigan (Stirling 61), Robertson, Cairney, McCloskey (Gibson 61); Longworth (Thomson 80); Malcolm 
    Not Used: Brown, Barron, Turner,  Nequecaur

    Website Man of the Match: Stefan Johansen

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