Thursday 18 January 2018

Celtic leave it late to book semi spot

Celtic 2 Alloa 0

Celtic’s Moussa Dembele
Celtic’s Moussa Dembele

Late goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele took Celtic past Alloa and into the Betfred Cup semi-final but the Hoops made hard work of overcoming the League One outfit 2-0 at Parkhead

A goalless first half was characterised mostly by poor finishing from the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders while returning Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon was perhaps fortunate to only get a yellow card for his high challenge on Wasps striker Greig Spence outside the box.

Numerous attempts on the visiting goal also went high or wide after the break with Neil Parry racking up saves until Forrest beat him in the 83rd minute with a left-footed drive from the edge of the box. Dembele added a second in the 90th minute.

It was not the most convincing of performance from Brendan Rodgers' side but Celtic join Rangers and Championship side Morton in the semi-final draw which will take place after the Aberdeen versus St Johnstone quarter-final tonight. Rodgers, aware of Celtic's relentless schedule, made five changes to the side which started the 2-2 draw at Inverness on Sunday.

Defender Jozo Simunovic made his first start of the season, with Gordon back in goal and defender Kolo Toure also coming in. Scott Sinclair replaced Patrick Roberts for the start of the second half and he fired wide from 20 yards within minutes before lofting another attempt.

Just before the hour mark Parry blocked a dink from Dembele before Celtic skipper Scott Brown headed a Sinclair corner past the post. Attacker Ryan Christie replaced Simunovic as Rodgers shuffled the pack but the tension slowly grew along with Alloa hope.

Forrest eventually beat the goalkeeper from the edge of the box while Dembele's powerful drive high into the net in the last minute sealed the win.

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