MAKE that 29 victorious cup ties and counting for Celtic. Or eleven straight cup competitions where the Parkhead side have reached the semi-finals at least, a run which stretches right back to Neil Lennon’s last time at the club.

Back-to-back victories against championship dwellers Dunfermline and Partick Thistle might not represent the most arduous of routes to the last four in a BetFred Cup format which uses seeded draws and is heavily weighted in the big clubs’ favour. But what else did we learn from a night where Celtic saw off the challenge of their city rivals under the new management of Ian McCall to book another journey to Hampden?


This match was played almost six years to the very day from the night when Lennon’s Celtic, Virgil van Dijk and all, slipped up at home to a Morton side under Allan Moore which would end the season being humiliated 10-2 by Hamilton before slipping out of the division.

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If that was a signal that dangers to the treble can lurk around even the most surprising corners, this one definitely conformed to type. While Celtic ran out hugely comfortable winners by the end, the Northern Irishman proved himself unafraid to use out his squad.

There were eight changes in all here from the side which played against Hibs, with Tom Rogic – starting a match for the first time since the cup final - scoring the killer second just 40 seconds after the break. Oliver Ntcham, given a more seniority in the midfield than usual, spanked in two beauties to wrap up the game. The first, which flew into Fox’s top corner from 30 yards, was as clean a strike as you will see all season. Then he used Johnny Hayes’ overlap, to cut onto his right and fire in a low finish which went in off the inside of the post.


Vakoun Bayo has been at Celtic for eight months, so it must have been a relief for the striker to open his scoresheet at the club. Denied a couple of goals recently against Hearts only after close inspection on video replay, his first for the club demonstrated the aerial prowess that he can bring to Celtic. In one sense at least, his free header from a perfectly flighted Hayes cross put him level with Odsonne Edouard – who also only has one headed goal for Celtic on his resume.

The 22-year-old, dismissed in Rennes recently, might have added a couple more, particularly when found at the far post by Tom Rogic, but he linked well for the Australian to score the second immediately after the re-start. He led the line smartly and unselfishly all night.

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For all that the scoreline got away from them, Ian McCall was back prowling the Partick Thistle technical area with an A4 clipboard after an eight-year absence and his return brought a fresh energy to a side who showed plenty of heart despite being bottom of the championship with two points from six matches to date. While losing the early goal was a blow to the solar plexus, Thistle had a spell just before half time which might have harvested an equaliser. First captain Sean McGinty, a head wound wrapped up, couldn’t get on the end of Cardle’s free kick, then Cardle tugged a shot wide. Shea Gordon stung the palms of his namesake Craig with a low shot after a nice move from the back.

Tam O’Ware had the ball in the net in the second half only for it to be ruled out for a linesman’s flag, what appeared to be a tight decision. Having said that, losing the killer second goal within 40 seconds of the re-start was the kind of thing that will have the new boss tearing his hair out.


There was a debut here for Jeremie Frimpong, the product of the Manchester City academy, quietly plucked from Pep Guardiola’s side on a four-year deal on deadline day. While he is also at home in midfield, he was housed here at right back and made an enterprising start to life as a Celtic player, threading in a pass for Lewis Morgan which Tam O’Ware nodded away from Bayo within minutes.

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While he also showed good recovery speed and one-on-one ability whilst defending against Miller, Frimpong wasn’t infallible, picking up a booking for hauling back Tommy Robson down the left. He received a deserved burst of applause when he was replaced by Jack Hendry late on.


When you consider the eight changes which Neil Lennon made from his starting team from Kilmarnock, and some of the names on the bench, it wasn’t the greatest of signs for supporters of Leigh Griffiths that the Scotland striker took this match in from the stands with his kids.

There is always a way back, though. Assumed to be in Neil Lennon’s dog-house after failing to make recent match-day squads, there was also a rare sighting of the lesser-spotted Scott Sinclair. Given an ovation as he entered the fray to replace Elyounoussi, the Englishman brought the house down when he gleefully steered in No 5, after a Rogic effort had been blocked. The Englishman almost got a second too, although it remains to be seen whether he can battle his way ahead of the likes of Mikey Johnston, Elyounoussi and Lewis Morgan to get a regular start on the left.