Celtic are through to the semi-finals of the Scottish League Cup after a 3-0 win over Raith Rovers at Celtic Park but the Parkhead side made heavy work of their Championship opponents.

The Hoops’ worst league start since 1998 has seen them lose four of their last five games, while Raith went into the game on the back of four wins in their last five – although there was an undoubted gulf in quality available to the two managers.

Both sides had early chances without really looking like scoring as Jota and Dylan Tait tried their luck but there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment as Raith found themselves pinned back by a wasteful Celtic side.

Raith didn’t let the pressure they were put under by the hosts fluster them, showing confidence in trying to play out from the back and exert some pressure of their own.

Celtic FC v Raith Rovers - Premier Sports Cup: Quarter-Final

Liam Dick of Raith Rovers vies with Celtic’s Liel Abada (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

For all of Celtic’s possession, Raith keeper Jamie MacDonald was fairly quiet as the Fifers backline mopped up everything their Premiership opposition were throwing at them before a foul by Liam Dick 23 minutes in handed a fantastic opportunity for Celtic to open the scoring from a free-kick right on the edge of the area.

After Tom Rogic and David Turnbull stood over it for a while, the Scotland midfielder only succeeded in firing his effort into the midriff of the Raith wall – but the first goal was to come just a minute or two later.

A lovely weighted pass from James McCarthy set Jota in behind the Raith defence and the Portuguese loanee showed great composure to rifle the ball into the back of the net and break the visitor’s resistance on 25 minutes.

After falling behind it was now a question of whether Raith could get to the break without conceding another and they almost got there, lasting until the 40th minute before Liel Abada headed home to give Celtic some breathing space.

It was almost 3-0 before the teams made their way off at the break, Rovers scrambling clear several times in the final five minutes of the half but, eventually, managing to make it off only two down.

Whatever was said in the Celtic dressing room at half-time worked, as Ange Postecoglou’s side came roaring out of the blocks and grabbed the third goal of the night almost immediately after restarting; David Turnbull firing home from distance as MacDonald scrambled to try get something on it.

 

Going 3-0 seemed to spark Raith’s best spell of attacking play, finding themselves getting forward a couple of times and putting the Celtic defence under a bit of pressure without really looking testing Joe Hart.

Rovers skipper Kyle Benedictus was lucky not to give away a spot-kick when he stumbled then brought down Jota in the box but managed to get away with it and avoid conceding the penalty.

Any hopes John McGlynn’s side had of pulling of an unlikely comeback were sunk with almost 30 minutes remaining when Dario Zanatta picked up a daft second yellow card to get himself sent off and leave Raith hoping for the final whistle.

While few expected Raith to perform a miracle in the East End, the Fifers didn’t disgrace themselves against the Parkhead side and will now turn their attention to securing their long-awaited return to the Premiership.

Celtic: Hart, Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Montgomery, McCarthy, Turnbull, Abada, Rogic, Jota, Ajeti

Subs: Bain, Scales, Bitton, Giakoumakis, Soro, Bolingoli, Urhoghide, Welsh, Juranovic

Raith: MacDonald, Dick, Berra, Benedictus, Tumilty, Riley-Snow, Connolly, Tait, Matthews, Zanatta, Varian

Subs: Thomson, Lang, McKay, Spencer, Arnott, Mitchell, Young, Poplatnik

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