Friday 15 December 2017

Kris Commons gives Celtic fans something to cheer about

Celtic's Kris Commons celebrates scoring their first goal with Gary Mackay Steven
Celtic's Kris Commons celebrates scoring their first goal with Gary Mackay Steven

Celtic began their defence of the Scottish League Cup with an insipid 2-0 third-round win over Raith Rovers at Parkhead.

Midfielder Kris Commons gave a much-changed home side the lead over the Championship side in the 32nd minute with a stunning 20-yard drive.

The goal, however, was not the signal for the Hoops to kick-on and they toiled until midfielder Stefan Johansen grabbed an 87th minute clincher to put them into the quarter-final draw next Monday.

Boss Ronny Deila, as promised, utilised his squad and made six changes to the side which started in the 6-0 Premiership win over Dundee on Sunday at Celtic Park.

Top scorer Leigh Griffiths was a notable absentee as Nadir Ciftci led the line in his first domestic start since signing from Dundee United in the summer with places for Tyler Blackett and Kieran Tierney in defence.

The top tier of Celtic Park was closed and a meagre crowd witnessed the home side survive an early scare.

It was not the most pulsating cup-tie but just after the half-hour mark Commons interjected with a stinging left-footed shot from the edge of the box which sped past Kirkcaldy keeper Kevin Cuthbert.

The visitors might have levelled in the 58th minute when a long-throw by right-back Jason Thomson into the box fell to Ross Matthews, but his volley from 10 yards cleared the bar.

In the 65th minute, just after Gordon saved a decent long-range effort from Rovers midfielder James Craigen, Deila brought on James Forrest and Tom Rogic for Callum McGregor and Commons respectively and some chances arrived.

Mackay-Steven had a shot deflected past for a fruitless corner and then had an even better chance when Rogic set him up 10 yards out but Cuthbert made a fine save.

Forrest curled a shot just past the post from the edge of the penalty area moments later, as did Rogic with 10 minutes remaining.

The increasingly restless home fans held their breath in the 83rd minute when former Rangers striker Jon Daly, on as Rovers substitute for Iain Davidson, scooped a shot over the bar from six yards.

However, Celtic nerves were eased four minutes later when Johansen raced clear of the Rovers defence to knock the ball past Cuthbert, with time for Aiden Nesbitt to come on for Ciftci to make his debut.


celtic 2 raith rovers 0

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