Of the SWPL’s top three, Scottish Cup holders Celtic had the most difficult quarter final tie today as they travelled to the Oriam Training Centre in Edinburgh to take on Hearts who are perhaps the most improved side in Scotland this season.
And the hosts got off to a flying start pinning Celtic back and merited getting the early goal after 15 minutes scored by Monica Forsyth who followed in on a rebound and it was a lead that Hearts took into the dressing room at the interval as the Celtic players were getting an earful from an extremely unhappy Fran Alonso after his side were clear second best in the first 45 minutes.
The Celtic starting XI was boosted by the return of Tash Flint from injury and Natasha Ross from suspension and on the bench there was further good news with Chloe Logan named as substitute, her first place in the squad for over a year, specifically for 403 days. Celtic warrior Chloe Craig was also back and on the bench and was always going to make an impact, was she not?
Alonso subbed off both Liv Chance and Lisa Robertson at the interval replace them with Hana Kerner and Menglu as the Spanish coach looked to get behind Hearts on both flanks. It was a tactical change that was to pay handsome dividends for this Celtic side that never knows it is beaten.
Hearts can’t say that they weren’t warned about what was to come as the American wingback Kerner combined brilliantly with Amy Gallacher to set up Tash Flint in the opening stages of the second half and the big striker, on loan from Leicester City made no mistake but frustratingly the flag went up and the holders were still a goal down, seeking an equaliser.
The Celtic pressure finally paid off in 54 minutes when a corner was cleared with Kerner picking up the loose ball and with a sweet strike curled it into the corner of the Hearts net to level the scores. Now there was only going to be one winner.
Celtic pose such arial threat at set pieces particularly through Caitlin Hayes and the powerful central defender was at it again a few minutes after Kerner’s wonderful goal, heading the ball across the Hearts six yard box for her fellow defender Claire O’Riordan to force the ball into the net from close range to give the Irish international a goal for Celtic on St Patrick’s weekend.
Both Fran Alonso’s half-time substitutes were making a big impact with Kerner already scoring and Menglu got a goal of her own on 78 minutes and what a special goal it was too from this very talented player. The Chinese winger picked up possession wide on the left wing, before driving to get away from her marker, taking the ball into the box then rocketing a brilliant shot across goal and into the far top corner!
That was that as far as any lingering Hearts hopes were concerned but if they thought that this Celtic side would be happy to see out a 3-1 win then they were mistaken as Celtic instead set about piling on the agony by putting on the style.
Celtic were awarded a penalty on 86 minutes and when Chloe Craig stepped up to take it the result was inevitable as she made it 4-1 to Celtic and in stoppage time the goal machine Tash Flint got her rewards with a well deserved fifth for the Hoops in a match that a delighted Fran Alonso descried as a game of two halves.
The four sides going into the hat for the Women’s Scottish Cup semi-finals, which this year will be played at Hampden were Celtic, theRangers, Glasgow City and Motherwell and the draw was made earlier this evening and surprise, surprise Celtic will play Glasgow City and theRangers will take on Motherwell.
CELTIC: Tajonar, Otto, O’Riordan, Robertson (Kerner 46), Ross (McAneny 74), Gallacher (Fergusson 81), Jacynta, Chance (Menglu 46), Clark (Craig 81), Hayes, Flint.
Unused Subs: Logan, Shen, Bowie, Goldie
Goalscorers: Kerner 54, O’Riordan 57, Menglu 78, Craig 86, Flint 90+1)
Here’s a delighted Fran Alonso’s post-match interview with Celtic TV after this afternoon’s 5-1 away win over Hearts in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals…
🎥 “We want to retain our Cup. It’s exciting to be at Hampden and we’ll try our best to make sure we’re in this final.”@franalonsofa spoke to @celtictv after a massive comeback from his side to book their place in the semi-finals! 👏
♥️1-5🍀#HEACEL | #ScottishCup | #COYGIG pic.twitter.com/tX5KWy7DEI
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) March 19, 2023
And here’s Hana Kerner’s thoughts after getting her first goal for Celtic…
🎥 “Our response in the second half was great and we can use that going forward next week. I’m thrilled to get that goal.”
Massive first goal for Celtic, congrats Han!
♥️1-5🍀#HEACEL | #ScottishCup | #COYGIG pic.twitter.com/ymshARmuiB
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) March 19, 2023
Hearts the best team in the first half, deserved to go ahead, but a good reaction and fantastic second half performance see us achieve the semis! 💪
Our supporters were incredible and loud as usual 😍🍀🍀
Hampden Park here we come 🏆🍀
— Fran Alonso (@FranAlonsoFA) March 19, 2023
Apologies that our coverage of the Celtic FC Women’s team hasn’t been as comprehensive as it usually is this weekend, have had some very sad family matters to deal with.
Sorry for your troubles my friend , your coverage is much appreciated and if people want to see the goals they should check out the Hearts women’s utube channel , Hail hail .