herald

Monday 23 October 2017

stokes sees red but celtic power on

Celtic booked their place in the last-four of the Scottish Cup last night with a comfortable 4-0 quarter-final replay victory over Dundee United at Parkhead as both sides ended with 10 men.

Ronny Deila's side beat United 2-0 in their Scottish League Cup final at Hampden on Sunday and any thoughts of Tayside revenge all but ended in the 17th minute when Hoops defender Jason Denayer headed in a free-kick from Anthony Stokes.

In the third meeting between the clubs in 11 days - the fourth comes in the Scottish Premiership at Celtic Park on Sunday - Leigh Griffiths, Kris Commons and Virgil van Dijk added further goals.

In the last two clashes four players had been sent off - three from United - so there was no real surprise when, in the closing stages at 3-0, numbers were depleted.

Stokes was shown a straight red card for lashing out at Paul Paton before United defender Ryan McGowan was sent off for a bad tackle on Hoops' late substitute Liam Henderson.

Celtic set up a semi-final meeting with Inverness at Hampden Park on the weekend of April 18th/ 19th and on this form, the league leaders' quest for the domestic treble look much more likely than not although the next game against United at the weekend may not be for the squeamish.

There was a complicated back story to this match. United were without suspended skipper Sean Dillon - sent off on Sunday and injured to boot - and fellow full-back Paul Dixon, who had been red carded when the teams drew 1-1 draw at Tannadice in the first Scottish Cup game.

Midfielder Chris Erskine and Blair Spittal came in with John Rankin and McGowan dropping back to defence, as striker Nadir Ciftci returned from a cup final ban and having escaped a two-match suspension for the replay after successfully appealing the punishment for an alleged kick at Hoops captain Scott Brown in the first match.

Deila made one enforced change to his side with winger James Forrest replacing suspended midfielder Stefan Johansen.

Within a minute of kick-off Cierzniak had picked up a booking for fouling Griffiths outside the box, the home support looking for referee Calum Murray to produce a red, although there were back-tracking United players.

CONTROL

As the home side took control, the United keeper made a decent save at his near post from Griffiths.

But when Stokes' dipping free-kick sped into the box - Tannadice midfielder Calum Butcher had fouled Kris Commons - the ball found the climbing Denayer and the 19-year-old Belgian powered his header just under the bar for his fifth goal of the season.

Two minutes from the interval a poor clearance by Cierzniak landed at the feet of Nir Bitton but the Hoops midfielder was robbed by Tannadice defender Callum Morris before he could inflict any damage.

Within moments of the restart Forrest had skinned Rankin again to find Commons inside the United box but he was crowded out. Curiously, that left-off seemed to inspire United.

The over-lapping McGowan drove the ball across the penalty area without finding a taker before Gordon clawed away a shot from Ciftci, who had picked up the loose ball.

Ambrose, booked in the first-half, fouled Ciftci with the United players making it clear they wanted referee Murray to take more action that merely a free-kick.

The mood among the home fans turned to anxiety but nerves were put at ease when Griffiths stole into the box and showed good technique to volley a lofted pass from Brown past Cierzniak, before he was immediately replaced by John Guidetti.

Celtic were cruising. Cierzniak made a decent save from Stokes and in the 77th minute Commons should have scored when he was set up by the Irishman.

But there was no hesitation a minute later when Guidetti was the provider, the former Derby player driving his shot high into the net from 10 yards.

The two late red cards were no surprise, given recent events, and there was time for Van Dijk to tap into an empty net from a Denayer pass.

celtic 4 dundee utd 0

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