Dundee 0 Celtic 4: Holders cruise into semi-final with comfortable win
Despite the cloudburst which preceded this Betfred Cup tie, there were no slips by Celtic at Dens Park as they cruised past Dundee into the semi-final draw, to be made after Motherwell and Aberdeen meet in Lanarkshire this evening. The holders scarcely had to exert themselves after they established a secure advantage with a double from James Forrest and contributions from Scott Sinclair and Callum McGregor. The exercise was effectively a pleasant warm-up before the two high profile contests which appear next on Celtic’s schedule, when the short trip to Ibrox for the first Old Firm derby of the campaign is followed by a European expedition to face Anderlecht in Brussels. Juggling the demands of defending the three Scottish honours as well as attempting to gain a toehold in the Champions League group stage, Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the side who cruised to a 4-0 home league victory over Ross County at the weekend. Most notably, Dedryck Boyata made his first appearance of the season with a welcome return to central defence. Mikael Lustig, Olivier Ntcham, Scott Sinclair, Kieran Tierney and Patrick Roberts were also restored after being rested against County, with Anthony Ralston, Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic, Jonny Hayes on the bench and Jozo Simunovic and Moussa Dembele granted a breather. Dundee, with no comparable resources, featured two personnel switches, with Roarie Deacon and Moussa Sofien replaced by Randy Wolters and Mark O'Hara. Sinclair opens the scoring from the spot Credit: Getty images Wolters featured in the referee’s notebook midway through the first half when he clattered Sinclair, who otherwise looked very difficult to stop as he made repeated assaults on the Dundee defence, another of which saw the winger toppled by Jack Hendry inside the box for a penalty kick that was disputed hotly by the centre-back. Sinclair stroked his conversion efficiently past Scott Bain to garnish Celtic’s 70% share of possession and he was joined on the scoresheet by his counterpart on the right flank shortly before the interval. In this instance, the graft was put in by Kieran Tierney with an overlapping sprint and cutback which was met by Forrest on the slide for a shot which beat Bain from eight yards. Neil McCann, the Dundee manager, had said beforehand that if his players went toe-to-toe with Celtic they would surely lose, yet by half time he could reflect that if they had taken their clear chances they would have been level at the break. The first arrived on the quarter-hour when a mistake by Boyata allowed A-Jay Leitch-Smith to surge clear inside the Celtic half with only Craig Gordon ahead of him but the striker did not have the acceleration to elude Scott Brown’s tracking run and he was forced wide by the Hoops skipper for a tame shot at the goalkeeper. James Forrest doubled Celtic's lead Credit: Getty images Faissal El-Bakhtaoui likewise should have found the Celtic net when he made a blindside run towards a Wolters cross aimed to dip just in front of the back post but, with only a simple contact required to score, the Moroccan forward got his timing wrong and merely knocked the ball into Gordon’s hands. Dundee could not contrive any greater threat in what remained of the contest and Celtic were able to conserve their resources by replacing Boyata with Ralston, Roberts with McGregor and Griffiths with Odsonne Edouard as they coasted to a 56th successive unbeaten fixture in domestic competitions. The action continued to the end, however, as Dundee suffered the indignity of conceding another two goals in the closing moments, first from McGregor’s low angled effort and then when Forrest drove through a ruck of players for his second.