Saturday, August 17, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow
(Johnston 54, Forrest 114)
CELTIC edged past Dunfermline to book their place in the quarter-final of the League Cup thanks to a late James Forrest goal. The defending champions needed extra-time to overcome a well organised Pars side at Paradise.Mikey Johnston put Celtic ahead early in the second half before Tom Beadling drew the visitors level. Forrest then clinched the all-important goal in extra-time.
Unsparingly, Stephen Crawford’s side employed a deep-lying defensive set-up and their organisation proved effective early on as Celtic struggled to create any clear cut chances despite dominating possession.Neil Lennon’s men looked to overcome the lack of space in the final third with balls over the top and, with Leigh Griffiths’ tendency to play off the shoulder of the last defender, the Dunfermline defence had to work hard to curb the threat from the home side.
The visitors gave Celtic a scare, however, after a defence clearance was misjudged by Christopher Jullien allowing Kevin Nisbet to run through on goal. Craig Gordon rushed off his line and the 22-year-old, who scored 34 goals in the Championship last season, lifted his shot wide from an acute angle.
Jolted by the lapse in concentration Celtic then found their rhythm and began systematically picking apart the Pars defence with a variety of attacking opportunities.
Nir Bitton tested Ryan Scully with a couple of powerful strikes from distance but the Dunfermline stopper managed to push clear the shots.As the first half progressed Celtic turned up the pressure on their opponents who soon had to weather wave after wave of attack.
Odsonne Edouard’s movement and neat footwork proved a handful for the Pars and the Frenchman unlocked the tightly packed defence with a neat pass through for Boli Bolingoli. The full-back’s chipped pass across the face of goal was begging to be knocked in but went unanswered.
Similarly, Mikey Johnston’s skill troubled the opposition and the winger came close to scoring after cutting in from the left and taking aim for the near post only to be denied by a good save.Captain for the day, McGregor, almost opened the scoring, his side-footed effort was heading for the bottom corner before Scully rescued his team yet again.
A goal looked a certainty given the pressure Celtic were inflicting on Dunfermline and it took the defending champions less than 10 minutes after the restart to take the lead.
Johnston received the ball 25 yards from goal, looked up and noticed a small window of opportunity to beat the keeper. He didn’t hesitate and curled a wonderful shot into the top corner and over the keeper.
The goal completed a trio of accolades for Johnston who now takes credit for Celtic’s opening goal in the league, European competition and the League Cup this season.
There was no let up for Dunfermline following the goal and the visitors spend the remainder of the game on the edge of their own penalty box trying to intercept a stray Celtic pass and punt clear the danger.
Celtic nearly doubled the lead when Hatem Abd Elhamed’s cut back from the by-line flashed past Christie and Edouard.Dunfermline substitute Andy Ryan turned the game on its head when he won possession just inside Celtic’s half and managed to hold off McGregor as he tore towards the by-line. His cut-back was side-footed across goal and into the bottom corner by Tom Beadling.
Celtic urgently went in search of a second goal to restore their lead and avoid the game going into extra-time. Olivier Ntcham saw his thunderous strike from the edge of the area blocked before Bitton’s header came back off the underside of the crossbar. Christie collected the ball 20 yards from goal and quickly turned to let of a shot but he was u able to keep his effort down.
Jullien almost scored his debut goal in injury time but his header back across goal flashed just wide of the post and the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of regular time.
Celtic bombarded the Dunfermline goal in extra-time. Forrest had a great chance inside the box but failed to generate enough power and Scully saved comfortably. Edouard fired his attempt from the edge of the area over the crossbar and Christie headed over.
In the second period of extra-time Ntcham forced a fine save from the keeper with a powerful strike from distance and Scully dived low to push the shot around the post.
Forrest came to the rescue in extra-time to score the winner and book Celtic’s place in the quarter-final five-minutes before penalties. The Hoops winger collected the ball just inside the box and pulled the trigger.
His shot took a slight deflection on its way into the far corner but the sense of relief that swept throughout Paradise was all that mattered.
CELTIC: Gordon; Elhamed, Jullien, Ajer (Ntcham 75); Bitton, Bolingoli (Hayes 95), Johnston (Morgan 115), McGregor, Christie; Griffiths (Forrest 55), Edouard
Subs: Hazard, Bayo, Shved
DUNFERMLINE: Scully, Comrie, Martin, Ashcroft, Beadling, Dow (Todd 110), Turner (Coley 65), Nisbet (McGill 84), Morrison, Paton, Edwards (Ryan 74)
Subs: Gill, Devine, McCann