Hampden will be green and white when Celtic take on Hibs in the semi-finals of the League Cup on the first weekend in November and no doubt tickets will be in demand unlike last night’s quarter final. We will not have to wait long for the dress rehearsal when Neil Lennon takes Celtic to Easter Road the home was his former employers.
There were plenty of empty seats last night at Paradise on a night when Celtic fans inside and watching on Celtic TV ( it’s a pity that Irish & UK based subscribers can only get audio and have to wait till the game is over to watche delayed coverage) were treated to a 5 star performance.
Everybody expected to see Celtic win and go 29 domestic cup games unbeaten but it was how they did it turning on the style in the second half but fair play to Thistle they came and gave it a go but the gap in class was there for all to see.
The fixture list has been packed since we started our European journey back in July and with so many important games still to play in Europe and in this 91AR season, the strength of the opponents gave the manager a chance to blood Jeremie Frimpong and a chance for some fringe squad players to get some playing time and to push forward a case for themselves to be included on a regular basis.
A quick look at the team sheet showed that we have strength in debt for a domestic assault on all three fronts within the squad. Gordon, Bayo, Hayes, Morgan, Rogic, Nthcham, Elyounoussi, Frimpong, Elhamed, Ajer, McGregor all took their place in the huddle as the new lights shone a single star over them to remind us all and those across the city of our greatest victory in 1967.
While first team regulars, Forster, Brown, Edouard, Bolingoli and Forest took their unfamiliar seats on the bench alongside forgotten players Scott Sinclair and Jack Hendry. Although the manager rang in the changes he was taking no chances, if Partick had upset the apple cart he had plenty of match winning options to spring off the bench.
After 14 minutes with Celtic dominating Bayo hammered home the first and I thought here we go but Thistle held out with until half time only one goal down. Bayo’s goal brought the stadium to life and the Green Brigade were in top form helping to create the atmosphere, a very loud cheer went around the stadium when Scott Sinclair emerged from the dugout to jog down the side-line towards the Jock Stein stand to warm up. The warm reception was much appreciated by Scott. Still a fans favourite even though he has not been in and around the first team much so far this season.
I had not even plonked myself on my seat or took a sip out of my Bovril before Tom Rogic scored the second within a minute of the second half kick off. Rogic had been quiet enough in the first half and I’m sure Lenny had a few words in his ear along with Ntcham another player with buckets of talent who maybe wasn’t fully tuned into the game in the first half.
However the French man was involved in everything in the second half and scored two absolute crackers from outside the box. Scott Brown replaced McGregor, Jack Hendry replaced man of the match debut bhoy Frimpong who was embraced by Neil Lennon as he left the pitch and Lennon also turned around to him when he was announced man of the match over the tannoy to congratulate him.
THE RETURNING SCOTT
One of the biggest cheers of the night went up once again for Scott Sinclair when he came off the bench to replace Mo Elyounoussi and when he scored the fifth and Celtic’s final goal he celebrated as if he had scored the winner in the dying seconds against The Rangers. I’m sure it was a celebration of mixed emotions as he released his frustrations while thanking the fans for the earlier support and applause.
The performance has given Lenny food for thought ahead of Saturdays visit to Edinburgh and will keep the first 11 on their toes.
Man of the Match: Jeremie Frimpong
Honourable Mention: Olivier Ntcham
Bench Watch: Scott Sinclair the fans miss you
Away Fans: Celebrated the disallowed goal but had little else to cheer about.
Away Players: Former Celtic player Scott Fox kept the scoreline down. Another former Celtic player Kenny Miller led the line with no success and came closest to the ball when substituted and the ball was smashed into the visitors dugout.