Celtic 3-0 Raith Rovers: Match Report

Celtic went into tonight’s Premier Sports Cup quarter-final clash with Raith Rovers knowing that nothing less than victory over the Kirkcaldy club would suffice. Ange Postecoglou reflected that understanding by naming a strong starting XI; the Australian making just two changes from the team that lost to Livingston at the weekend.

Carl Starfelt and Adam Montgomery replaced Stephen Welsh and Boli Bolingoli, but before matters on the park could be addressed supporters were treated to a pre-match display under the disco lights. Minutes later, Jota had Jamie MacDonald dancing to his left-hand post with a curling effort that missed the target by inches. It was a passage of play fit for the occasion, yet it took until just shy of the 20-minute mark for Celtic to create another opportunity, when Christophe Berra appeared to handle inside the box. Fortunately for the former Hearts veteran, the officials didn’t spot the infringement.

The breakthrough eventually came mid-way through the first half, Jota converting with aplomb from close range. The Portuguese winger latched on to a wonderful incisive pass from McCarthy, taking a touch to steady himself before slotting beyond the onrushing goalkeeper.

Seconds later, Jota almost doubled Celtic’s lead but his shot was blocked at the last moment. The two-goal cushion did arrive before the break though, and the man from Portugal was involved once again. On that occasion, his powerful strike was parried out to Abada, who nodded home in the 39th minute.

Pictures from Premier Sports

The Bhoys almost returned to the changing room with a 3-0 advantage, but Carter-Vickers couldn’t quite find the target with a header under close attention from MacDonald.

Second Half:

Barely 90 seconds had been played since the restart, before Celtic extended their lead. David Turnbull delivered the killer blow, nonchalantly curling a side-footed shot into the corner of the net from 25 yards. The goal made sure of the team’s place in the semi-final, but the Hoops eyed more as Postecoglou’s men continued on the front foot.

A clear chance materialised in the 49th minute as Jota did tremendously well to keep the ball in play at the corner flag. The dazzling winger supplied Tom Rogic with a golden opportunity inside the box, but the Australian uncharacteristically miscued his finish. Shortly after squandering that opening, Rogic turned provider as he set Albian Ajeti clear, only for the chance to go awry. The striker appealed for a penalty, but on closer inspection the referee was correct to wave the protest away.

Any remaining vestiges of hope for Raith evaporated on the hour mark, when Dario Zanatta was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence, following a cynical foul on Anthony Ralston. As he left the field, Postecoglou rung the changes, handing Liam Scales his Celtic debut, and introducing Josip Juranovic. That pair replaced Liel Abada and Albian Ajeti, respectively. Meanwhile, Tom Rogic and James McCarthy were removed for Ismaila Soro and Nir Bitton ten minutes later.

Play petered out thereafter, the Bhoys cruising to a victory that went one better than the scoreline when the sides last met, on this day six years ago.

St Johnstone now await Celtic in the semi-final, which will be played at Hampden Park next month.

Full time: Celtic 3-0 Raith Rovers

Man of the Match: João Filipe (Jota)

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were/are sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are available on Amazon.

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