SCOTTISH LEAGUE CUP Quarter Final
CELTIC 3-0 RAITH ROVERS
23rd September 2021. K.O. 7.45pm
Celtic Park. Glasgow.
Ange Postecoglou made three changes in defence to the team that started the defeat to Livingston in league duty. Out went Juranovic, Welsh and Bolingoli to make way for Ralston, Starfelt and Adam Montgomery and another game where we chopped and changed the back four. Championship side Raith Rovers rocked up to Celtic Park with the intention of adding more misery on a Celtic team that had lost two games on the bounce.
It was Rovers who looked to have settled quicker with assured play and passing in the first 25 minutes although Celtic were mostly in possession. On 3 minutes, new Bhoy, Jota twisted beautifully on the edge of the Raith box to get a shot away. The next decent opportunity would arrive on 19 minutes when Rogic raced to the bye-line to cut back for Ajeti who caught the ball on his heel but was prevented by the hand of Christophe Berra. Play was waved on.
The goal arrived in the 26th minute when a sublime defence splitting pass by James McCarthy through to an on running Jota who delicately lifted the ball over the advancing Raith goalie for the Hoops first goal. The game was over as a contest when Jota saw his shot from distance parried by McDonald only as far as the waiting Abada who headed in to make it 2-0 going into Half time.
The Sizeable Celtic support would have been expecting a goal glut after the break and it was 3-0 just two minutes after the restart (47). The goal came from Ajeti pressing the Raith Rovers defence into losing the ball. The Swiss striker passed to Rogic who saw Turnbull free just outside the box. Turnbull received and with a bending shot he put it past McDonald and into the right corner of the net. It was a very well struck goal from the lad who had been having a quiet game by his standards but always worth a goal.
From here the Rovers players began to use tactics and tackles that were bordering on Rugby standards at times. It cost them in 59 minutes when Canadian Dario Zanatta was booked for a second yellow and received his marching orders. This was now time for Ange to implement a few changes with a double substitution in 61 minutes. Abada and Ajeti were replaced with Juranovic and a first appearance for newly signed Liam Scales. The Irishman made a good impression right away with a gazelle-like run after intercepting a loose ball. From there he did enough over the remainder of the game to suggest we have signed a good player who will immediately stake his claim for a starting slot.
69 minutes and another double substitution made total sense to save tired legs. McCarthy and Rogic were replaced by Bitton and Soro. The game sort of petered out from here although Celtic were again totally dominant in possession. We could and should have added to our tally but in a cup game it is hardly a necessity. We had the win to advance forward, we made decent substitutions at the right time and this in turn allowed us to get game time for more players that will be called upon in the course of the season. We played well but definitely in second gear. The big plus point of the game was the hunger and desire shown by young lads Montgomery and Scales. Juranovic also looked a handful when he came on.
We now progress to the Semi Finals of the League Cup at Hampden Park where we will face St Johnstone in the weekend of 20/21 November. We need to learn to be more clinical in front of goal which has been obviously lacking since the injury to Kyogo. New Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis also suffered a calf injury during warm up when the fans were desperate to see him play. We have been very unfortunate in a few positions with injuries and hopefully by this time next month we will be up to full strength. A good result and a convincing performance but we need to show this consistently to have a chance at silverware this season.
CELTIC: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Montgomery, McCarthy, Turnbull, Abada, Rogic, Jota, Ajeti. SUBS: Scales, Bitton, Giakoumakis, Soro, Bolingoli, Urhoghide, Bain, Welsh, Juranovic (4-2-3-1)
RAITH ROVERS: McDonald, Tumilty, Benedictus, Berra, *, Connolly, Tait, Riley-Snow, Matthews, Zanatta, Varian. SUBS: Lang, Spencer, McKay, Thomson, Fotheringham, Arnott, Mitchell, Young, Poplatnik (4-5-1)
POSSESSION: Celtic 72% - 28% Raith
SHOTS: Celtic 19 - 5 Raith
SHOTS ON TARGET: Celtic 8 - 1 Raith