Celtic eventually overcame Hibernian at Easter Road in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter final tonight but not until they endured a fraught first half. The game was 3 minutes old when Ivan Sproule gave the home team the lead off an unfortunate Daniel Majstorovic. A Hibs corner was not defended at the edge of the six yard box and had to be cleared off the line by Adam Matthews at the near post but Sproule fired the clearance into the six hard box where is ricocheted off Majstorovic and into the net.
Celtic struggled to get into the game but after 19 minutes Beram Kayal broke free on the right and crossed for Gary Hooper, who missed the ball with his leading foot and saw it bounce off his left knee and behind.
The best two chances of the first half for Celtic came within four minutes. Ki and Hooper combined before Kayal released Stokes on 23 minutes but the Irishman’s shot skimmed the outside of the post.
In a move that would have a more productive second half facsimile, Stokes was unmarked at a Ki corner but missed the ball with his head and saw his shoulder contact go wide.
On 33 minutes Sproule ran half the field and cut inside Ki of the edge of the area before shooting over. Minutes later Sproule released Agogo, who dispossessed Celtic midfielders throughout the first half, but Forrest saved at the big striker’s feet.
Five minutes from half time Leigh Griffiths should have doubled Hibs lead when Celtic’s scourge in recent times, the long forward ball, returned to haunt them. Griffiths ran unattended from his own half but Fraser Forster did his best gable end impersonation to narrow the angle inside his box and block the shot.
Things soon picked up.
James Forrest underlined his Most Valuable Player status to Celtic a minute after the break. Ki played a forward pass to Hooper on the edge of the area, which was nipped onto Forrest by the Celtic striker. Forrest cut inside, dropped the shoulder and shot home from 17 yards.
It was a remarkably simple goal but the strength of shot by Forrest was particularly noteworthy. Being able to shoot from the edge of the area is a crucial part of a wingers play.
Beram Kayal was booked on 48 minutes for being kicked in the face by Ivan Sproule, who also saw a yellow card.
Forrest got his second, and best, goal on 57 minutes. He collected a throw-in on the wing, beat two Hibs players, played a one-two with Stokes and finished with a well-placed left foot shot.
Celtic then went into overdrive as Hibernian faltered. Forrest skinned his marker and crossed but Ki slipped inside the box when the ball broke to him. A minute later Anthony Stokes make a good connection with a Ki corner to head Celtic’s third goal from the six yard line.
Gary Hooper was having an off evening but he timed his run onto an Adam Matthews long ball, controlled and scored to finish off the scoring. Ivan Sproule received his second yellow card 20 minutes from time for kicking Mark Wilson as he ran through on goal. On this occasion his victim escaped punishment.
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