DUNDEE 0 CELTIC 4
A MOMENT of sheer tantalising magic from Scotty Sinclair opened the way for Celtic to romp past a rugged Dundee into tomorrow night’s Betfred League Cup semi-final draw.
Once the English raider had unlocked the Tayside rearguard with a slalom run in the 23rd minute, the Hoops took command and doubled the advantage with another first-half strike from James Forrest.
Substitute Callum McGregor, on for Paddy Roberts, and Forrest, with his second double in successive games, made certain late in the game.
Dedryck Boyata made his first competitive appearance of the season after overcoming his injury while Jozo Simunovic was left out of the squad with a swollen knee.
There was no sign of Moussa Dembele, but Brendan Rodgers admitted he would be in the reckoning for the game at Ibrox on Saturday.
The Hoops almost got off to a sensational start when Roberts set up Olivier Ntcham on the edge of the box and his low drive was zeroing in on the left-hand corner of the net before Scott Bain dived full length to edge it past the post.
Dundee were not getting involved in the finer points of football as they went about their business and in quick succession Mark O’Hara clattered into Scott Brown, Jack Henry had a nasty tackle on Ntcham and Randy Wolters booted Kieran Tierney.
Remarkably, referee John Beaton kept his cards in his pocket.
In the 18th minute, skipper Brown had to clear after a sloppy ball from Boyata had been intercepted and A-Jay Leitch-Smith had been sent on his way.
The midfielder intervened at the right time and keeper Craig Gordon mopped up the danger by flopping on the ball.
Eventually, the match official had to produce a yellow card and it was no surprise it went to Wolters after upending Sinclair in the 21st minute.
But the Hoops raider got his own back with a spectacular run through the left-hand channel as he skipped past four challenges.
His adventurous surge was only halted by a clumsy challenge from Henry and there was little option for Beaton but to point to the spot.
Sinclair rolled his effort sweetly beyond Bain’s left hand to give the holders the breakthrough goal.
In the 39th minute, Ntcham was booked and the decision from the ropy ref fell into the preposterous category. The Frenchman clashed with Wolters, but clearly both had gone for a high ball with inetions of winning it.
Three minutes from the interval, Celtic doubled their lead when Tierney picked out Forrest and the winger timed his attempt to perfection as he slid a first-time drive wide of Bain at his right-hand side.
Neil McCann sent his team out in determined mood after the interval and Kevin Holt, Lewis Spence and Cammy Kerr were booked.
Rodgers freshened up the team by sending on McGregor, Anthony Ralston and Odsonne Edouard for Roberts, Boyata and Griffiths.
Two minutes from the end, Celtic broke forward when Tierney released Sinclair and his parting of the ball was immaculate as he released the ball into McGregor’s path. His low effort was a goal as soon as it left his boot.
One minute into stoppage time, Forrest netted an exquisite fourth goal. Sinclair and Edouard were involved in the lead-up play and the winger skipped past Holt before flashing a low drive beyond Bain.
That’s 56 successive games unbeaten against Scottish opposition.
Would anyone bet against 57 at Ibrox on Saturday?
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (sub: Ralston 67), Bitton; Forrest, Roberts (sub: McGregor 72), Brown, Ntcham, Sinclair, Tierney; Griffiths (sub: Edouard 84).