CELTIC eased into the Betfred Cup semi-final against Hibs with a fine performance and an impressive 5-0 score line at Celtic Park this evening against Ian McCall’s Partick Thistle side.
The visitors played well enough, those who do the fixed odds will do well to take the Jags on their coupons in the weeks to come. They gave Celtic a better game than we got in the other Glasgow Derby on Beautiful Sunday and were unlucky not to have pulled a goal back after Tom Rogic had doubled Celtic’s lead at the start of the second half.
The first half was fairly even with Thistle pushing on towards the interval and pinning Celtic in their own half.
Bayo had headed Celtic into the lead after a fine cross from a free-kick from Jonny Hayes. The two combined again shortly afterwards but Bayo mistimed his jump and his header was just too high. He was annoyed with himself but can be satisfied with a powerful performance not lacking in skill.
Ian McCall’s half-time team talk would have been about telling his players that they had gone toe to toe with Celtic, held their own and were unlucky to be behind.
That though went out the window straight from the re-start when Bayo cleverly set up Rogic just inside the area and the Big Aussie had no difficulty finding the bottom corner.
Frimpong seemed to be fouled but recovered to stop the break, referee McLean saw fit to book the youngster for a nothing foul, his first of the match. The 18 year old had an impressive debut, looks fast, skilful and is not scared to go past his man. He was given the sponsors Man of the Match and was given a huge standing ovation when he was replaced by Jack Hendry.
From that free-kick Thistle scored, their fans erupted but it was short-lived as the linesman raised his flag.
Celtic, inspired by Ntcham, Rogic and Bayo who were all in the mood, went up a few gears and really did put Thistle to the sword.
Ntcham scored an absolute screamer from 30 yards and the curled in his second and Celtic’s fourth, his goal scoring shot also featured a nutmeg!
Scotty Sinclair was introduced and was given a huge welcome as the support sent a message to Neil Lennon about his one blind spot.
Sinclair scored one and was unlucky not to get three. A fine save and after brilliant combination play with Bayo he choose to pass rather than take the goal himself and the chance was lost.
While all this was going on Olivier Ntcham was hitting everything that came his way at the edge of the box as he attempted to complete his hat-trick.
Steven McLean could have helped him when a Tom Rogic shot struck a Thistle arm but the referee waved away the appeals.
Scotty Sinclair’s goal came after some fine play and another decent save – the ball fell perfectly and the fans favourite made no mistake.
He ran over the North stand corner and celebrated like it was a Cup Final winner.
He certainly did enough to make Neil Lennon think again. The left hand side should be a contested by Sinclair and Mikey Johnston because they are the best players we have for that position.
So 5-0, a semi-Final draw against Hibs and plenty of decent performances from the likes of Frimpong, Rogic, Ntcham and Bayo.
Hearts will play the Rangers in the other semi-Final.
Man of the Match – Olivier Ntcham