Sunday 20 January 2019

High five for Bhoys as Hayes does his bit

Celtic 5-0 Kilmarnock

Leigh Griffiths scores
Leigh Griffiths scores

A youthful Celtic side powered through to the Betfred Cup quarter-finals with a 5-0 thrashing of Kilmarnock at Parkhead.

Striker Leigh Griffiths helped himself to a first-half double, the first from a penalty, with 18-year-old defender Anthony Ralston heading in his first goal for the club.

Ralston was one of five teenagers in the starting line-up which also included Kundai Benyu, Kristoffer Ajer, Calvin Miller and Eboue Kouassi. And 20-year-old Kieran Tierney, captain for the night in the absence of suspended Scott Brown, fired in a wonderful fourth from 35 yards in the 65th minute with midfielder Stuart Armstrong - Irishman Jonny Hayes helping set him up - completing the rout from close range.

It was a show of strength-in-depth from the Scottish treble winners who met with almost no resistance as they took an impressive step towards retaining the trophy.

The visitors started tentatively and withstood some early pressure before conceding an entirely avoidable penalty.

Killie wide-man Jordan Jones lost possession to Hayes and in his haste to recover he clumsily tripped the former Aberdeen winger inside the box.

Griffiths smashed his spot-kick low past Rugby Park keeper Jamie MacDonald who dived the right way but no avail. When Ralston rose to head in a Griffiths corner from eight yards in the 21st minute it already looked like it was game over. As Killie reeled, Griffiths escaped a square-looking Ayrshire back-line to race on to a Tierney pass and slip the ball under the Killie number one.

The start of the second half was no easier for Killie. Tierney, with time and space, arrowed a long-distance drive high into the top corner.

In the 70th minute, Armstrong delivered from six yards to further demoralise a punch-drunk Killie, who just tried to contain Celtic after that.

Anthony Stokes grabbed a brace for Hibernian as they also ended up being 5-0 winners, seeing off Ayr United.

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