Falkirk played some good football at Hampden this afternoon and looked competitive with the bottom half if the Scottish Premier League, but Celtic scored three, hit the woodwork three times and had a good goal incorrectly disallowed for offside, emphasising how comfortable a day’s work it was for the SPL, Scottish Cup and League Cup favourites.
James Forrest reached the goal line and cut back to Scott Brown, whose shot was deflected onto the post before rebounding to Gary Hooper who made no mistake. The nearside linesman did nothing for the reputation of Scotland’s officials by raising his flag despite a second defender being inside the six yard box while the Celtic striker was 8 yards out.
Six minutes later Thomas Rogne got his head onto a Forrest corner but saw the effort rebound from the crossbar. Falkirk maintained parity for 27 minutes before conceding cheaply. Darren Dods, aware of Rogne’s potency at set pieces, hauled the Celtic defender to the ground inside the box from a Mulgrew corner. Scott Brown converted the resultant penalty.
Stokes could have made Celtic comfortable six minutes from half time when he connected with Hooper’s cutback but his shot was blocked. A minute later Falkirk were level. Victor Wanyama misplaced a cross-field pass to Cha in the middle of the field, Emilio Izaguirre had pushed forward while no one dropped back to cover.
Cha and Wanyama both had chances to get tight on breaking Falkirk players but Higgingbotham feigned a shot and rolled the ball into the path of 17-year-old Jay Fulton, who finished clinically.
Within a minute of the break Rogne had a chance to put Celtic ahead again but mistimed his header before Gary Hooper set James Forrest through with Falkirk keeper McGovern to beat but the winger was denied.
Falkirk’s best chance to win the tie arrived six minutes after then break when Fulton drifted in unattended at Celtic’s left but his half-volley from 7 yards flew over.
Thomas Rogne hit the cross bar for the second time with a deflected shot after another Mulgrew corner. A minute later Anthony Stokes put one foot in the final when he lifted a free kick over the Falkirk wall and into the side of the net. It wasn’t the hardest struck free kick but he caught McGovern mid-jump on his line, so the keeper was slow to move to his right.
Falkirk pushed forward whenever they could and Duffy got the better of Joe Ledley to setup Alston but the substitute couldn’t convert. 12 minutes from the end Fraser Forster made an impressive double save after a corner. He stopped the first from Darren Dods and then saved from Stuart Murdoch.
Ledley saw a shot from a Matthews cross deflected over before the Celtic full back cleared at the other end when Weatherston got behind Wanyama to cross.
Gary Hooper secured the win for Celtic when he collected outside the box after 85 minutes, turned his defender and headed for the bye-line. His cross was converted by Stokes with Ledley waiting if needed.