Dem­bele dou­ble keeps Celtic on tre­ble track

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - RON­NIE ESPLIN

ASECOND-HALF dou­ble by sub­sti­tute Moussa Dem­bele gave Celtic vic­tory over Hiber­nian and booked the Hoops’ place in the Betfred Cup fi­nal. Bren­dan Rodgers’ side had re­turned chas­tened from their 3-0 Cham­pi­ons League de­feat by Bay­ern Mu­nich in Ger­many on Wed­nes­day, but even far from their best they ap­peared to have the semi-fi­nal won by half-time af­ter two strikes by right-back Mikael Lustig.

For­mer Celt An­thony Stokes re­duced the deficit just be­fore the hour mark from the penalty spot be­fore Dem­bele came on and re­stored Celtic’s two-goal lead. And al­though 19-year-old Oliver Shaw made it 3-2 mo­ments af­ter com­ing off the bench for Neil Lennon’s side, the French striker grabbed a late fourth.

The cham­pi­ons ex­tended their un­beaten do­mes­tic run to 60 games to set up a fi­nal meet­ing with either Rangers or Mother­well, who play to­day.

Celtic’s opener came in the 14th minute af­ter Hibs failed to clear their lines hav­ing ini­tially dealt with a Leigh Grif­fiths free-kick.

When Stu­art Arm­strong’s cross from the left was headed on by Hoops de­fender Dedryck Boy­ata, Lustig es­caped the sleep­ing Bran­don Barker to knock the ball past Ross Laid­law with­out any great pace.

If Laid­law looked un­con­vinc­ing at Lustig’s first goal — and he did with a poor at­tempt to save — then the sec­ond was a dis­as­ter for the for­mer Raith Rovers goal­keeper.

This time Hibs skip­per David Gray al­lowed the Swe­den in­ter­na­tional to get on the end of a Grif­fiths cor­ner and from a less-than-pow­er­ful drive the Easter Road ’keeper al­lowed the ball to get past him.

It looked all over for the Lei­thers. The Ed­in­burgh side, with Steven Whittaker and Mar­tin Boyle on for Gray and Marvin Bart­ley for the start of the sec­ond half, had an early chance soon af­ter the break but Vyk­in­tas Slivka headed Boyle’s cor­ner over the cross­bar be­fore Celtic de­fender Kieran Tier­ney clipped the post with a drive.

Hibs were handed a life­line in the 59th minute when ref­eree Kevin Clancy, af­ter some hes­i­ta­tion, pointed to the spot when Boyle went down af­ter a chal­lenge by Boy­ata, with Stokes send­ing ’keeper Craig Gor­don the wrong way with his spot-kick.

James For­rest and Dem­bele im­me­di­ately re­placed Pa­trick Roberts and Grif­fiths and both were in­volved in Celtic’s third goal in the 67 th minute, when Scott Sin­clair had mis­kicked a For­rest cut-back but only to the un­marked Dem­bele who fired in from close range.

More drama fol­lowed. Shaw re­placed Slivka two min­utes later and raced on to a Whittaker pass to slip the ball past Gor­don for his first Hibs goal to set up a tense fi­nale.

Laid­law made saves from For­rest and Dem­bele but in an­other Celtic break two min­utes from time the French striker took a pass from sub­sti­tute Tom Rogic to knock in the fourth and keep hopes of re­tain­ing the do­mes­tic tre­ble in­tact.

Moussa Dem­bele’s dou­ble sealed the vic­tory

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.