Match ends, Albion Rovers 0, Celtic 3.
Albion Rovers 0-3 Celtic
Celtic eased past Albion Rovers at Excelsior Stadium and into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.
Scott Sinclair's class separated the teams at half-time, as he found the top corner from the edge of the box with a stunning finish.
Celtic finished strongly and Dedryck Boyata headed off the bar before Moussa Dembele made it two when he turned home Scott Brown's cut-back.
Stuart Armstrong added a late third with a tap-in.
Width works for Celtic
Albion Rovers' approach was to try to crowd Celtic out. With the home side's defence sitting so deep, Celtic's most effective attacking ploy was to overload the flanks.
James Forrest, on the right, and Sinclair, on the left, encouraged this to happen by driving infield to make space for Cristian Gamboa and Kieran Tierney to surge beyond them from full-back.
Sinclair and Forrest saw plenty of the ball, with their movement and trickery a constant threat for the Albion defenders to contend with.
Sinclair saw one effort well blocked by Albion goalkeeper Ross Stewart before he made the breakthrough. His goal was a brilliant piece of improvisation, looping the ball over Stewart, who would have thought the ball was going over before it dipped sharply into the top corner.
Sinclair also created a chance for Forrest after the break, but the left-foot shot was stopped at the second attempt by Stewart. Gamboa also tried his luck from 20 yards but pulled his shot wide.
Albion apply themselves
The home side only had one viable game plan to employ: defending deep, with the back four narrow to protect the penalty box and five players strung across midfield, to reduce the space for Celtic to attack into.
The ploy worked, since Celtic seldom managed to work the ball behind the defensive line, which was well marshalled by the Dunlop brothers, Ross and Michael, in central defence. The drawback was that the home side were unable to build passages of possession to ease the pressure they were under.
Paul Willis and Ross C Stewart swapped between the centre-forward and right-wing positions throughout the game, but were always isolated when up front. The midfield three of Gary Fisher, Mark Ferry and Ross Davidson worked manfully, but mental and physical fatigue became a factor.
As Celtic penned them in during the second half, Boyata headed off the crossbar and Jozo Simunovic's effort from close range was hacked off the line by Ross Dublin.
Armstrong adds dynamism
With Brown and Nir Bitton sitting deep in midfield, Armstrong had licence to surge forward from a more advanced position.
Hard running has been a feature of his play this season, and the energy and vitality of Armstrong's display was important to maintaining Celtic's intensity. He delivered a fierce shot in the first half that Stewart tipped over and he swept another effort towards goal after the break, but the ball flew above the bar.
Even when Armstrong was not bursting beyond the attackers, the threat was still posed. One run by Brown into the penalty area ended with his cut-back being converted by Dembele.
In the final stages, Armstrong jinked past two challenges on the edge of the area before drilling a shot on target that Stewart saved. Moments later, he would not be denied, clipping the ball high into the net from close range.
- 3TurnbullSubstituted forMcCannat 79'minutes
- 2ReidBooked at 87mins
- 7FerrySubstituted forGilmourat 74'minutes
- 9StewartSubstituted forFergusonat 65'minutes
- 63TierneySubstituted forMcGregorat 62'minutes
- 23LustigSubstituted forSimunovicat 45'minutes
- 49ForrestSubstituted forRobertsat 75'minutes
- 24de Vries
- William Collum
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Albion Rovers 0, Celtic 3.
Goal! Albion Rovers 0, Celtic 3. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Patrick Roberts.
Attempt blocked. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Alan Reid (Albion Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Patrick Roberts (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alan Reid (Albion Rovers).
Foul by Patrick Roberts (Celtic).
Michael Dunlop (Albion Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Cristian Gamboa (Celtic).
Gary Fisher (Albion Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dedryck Boyata (Celtic).
(Albion Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Scott Sinclair (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Kevin McCann (Albion Rovers).
Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Celtic).
Ross Gilmour (Albion Rovers) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Albion Rovers. Kevin McCann replaces Kyle Turnbull.
Goal! Albion Rovers 0, Celtic 2. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from very close range to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Scott Brown.
Substitution, Celtic. Patrick Roberts replaces James Forrest.
Substitution, Albion Rovers. Ross Gilmour replaces Mark Ferry.
Attempt blocked. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Alan Reid.
Dedryck Boyata (Celtic) hits the bar with a header from the right side of the six yard box.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Ross Stewart.
Attempt saved. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner.
Foul by Moussa Dembele (Celtic).
Alan Reid (Albion Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.
James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ross Davidson (Albion Rovers).
Substitution, Albion Rovers. Calum Ferguson replaces Ross Stewart.
Foul by Moussa Dembele (Celtic).
Michael Dunlop (Albion Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Celtic. Callum McGregor replaces Kieran Tierney.
Attempt missed. Cristian Gamboa (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Attempt missed. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.
Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).
Gary Fisher (Albion Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.