Dundee’s Betfred Cup quarter final against Celtic at Dens Park went strictly by the form book as Celtic ran out as comfortable 4-0 winners. They were two ahead at half time thanks to a Scott Sinclair penalty and a James Forrest goal. The final two goals, from Darren McGregor and Forrest again, came right at the end of a second half that Celtic were able to cruise through.
The Dark Blues made two changes from Saturday’s starting line-up. Randy Wolters kept his place after replacing the injured Roarie Deacon. 17 year old Matthew Henvey was on the bench for the first time. Sofien Moussa missed out through injury and Mark O’Hara started in his place. Celtic’s strength is such that they made six changes without looking any weaker.
Celtic opened as confidently as a team should when it has been undefeated in domestic competition for over a year. Scott Bain touched Oliver Ntcham’s low 20 yard shot in the second minute away for a corner, but it was a Dundee corner a minute later that brought greater danger. Randy Wolters peeled away from the defence and the deep corner found him unmarked, only for his goalbound volley to bounce to safety off a defender.
The visitors were dominating possession and Dundee were largely restricted to attacking on the break. After Glen Kamara won the ball Faissal El Bakhtaoui’s pass almost sent A-Jay Leitch-Smith clear, but great covering by Dedryk Boyata nicked the ball away from the Dee striker.
It took a moment of superb skill to open up the Dark Blue defence. Scott Sinclair slalomed past three players into the penalty area before being brought down by Jack Hendry. SINCLAIR took the spot kick himself to score.
Celtic were impressively smooth on the ball, but offered glimmers of hope with the occasional lapse of concentration at the back. Dundee should have equalised when Boyata missed Randy Wolters’ cross. It could have been a tap in at the back post but El Bakhtaoui was taken by surprised and also missed the ball.
Dundee’s hopes of reaching the break only a goal adrift were dashed on 42 minutes when Kieran Tierney pulled the ball back for James FORREST to score with a low shot from 12 yards.
Celtic came close to a third right at the start of the second half when Leigh Griffith’s shot from outside the penalty area took a nasty deflection and spun over Bain, but wide of the post. That was the end of the action, and the entertainment for nearly all of the second half.
Sitting on a comfortable two goal lead Celtic settled into cruise control and professionally killed the game as a contest. They hogged possession expertly, forcing the Dundee players to run themselves into the ground trying to close them down. The Dark Blues weren’t given even a sniff of a chance of getting back into the game.
Occasionally Celtic would burst forward for a serious assault on Scott Bain’s goal, which the Dundee defence handled well for the most part. Only a great save by Scott Bain denied Forrest at the end of another fine run down the left by Tierney.
Long after the game had died as a spectacle Celtic sparked into life with two very late goals. Dundee had managed a very rare attack that only served to leave them vulnerable to a breakaway. Sinclair raced down the field and set up substitute Darren McGREGOR to score with a firm low drive across Bain. In injury time James FORREST helped himself to a second with a low shot from 20 yards.
Tonight Dundee were well beaten by a superior side. The players did their best, but Celtic were far too good. A huge club like Celtic will always expect to have better players. When more talented players combine their skill with hard work, organisation and a ruthless focus on winning there is little hope of an upset. Dundee’s best hope was complacency from the champions. There were a few moments when Celtic’s high standards did slip in the second half, but Dundee couldn’t take advantage. Even if Dundee had been able to pinch a goal Celtic always had enough in reserve to recover. Some day Celtic’s astonishing undefeated run will come to an end. Sadly for Dees it never looked like happening tonight.
Dundee FC 4-2-3-1
Kerr, Hendry, O’Dea (c), Holt
Spence (McGowan 73), Kamara
Wolters (Deacon 63), O’Hara, El Bakthaoui
Unused subs: Parish (gk), Williams, Aurtenetxe, Waddell, Henvey.
Booked: Wolters (foul on Sinclair), Spence (foul on Forrest), Kerr (foul on Tierney), Holt (foul on Forrest).
Lustig, Boyata (Ralston 66), Biton
Roberts (McGregor 72), Ntcham, Brown (c), Tierney
Forrest, Griffiths (Edouard 84), Sinclair
Unused subs: De Vries (gk), Hayes, Armstrong, Rogic.
Goals: Sinclair (25 pen), Forrest (42, 90+1), McGregor (88).
Booked: Ntcham (foul on Wolters), McGregor (foul on McGowan).
Referee: John Beaton. Assistants: Stuart Stevenson, Graham Chambers. Fourth official: Craig Charleston.
Report: James Christie.