Late Forrest strike ensures Celtic avoid cup upset against Dunfermline

Late Forrest strike ensures Celtic avoid cup upset against Dunfermline
Pictures: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire

Celtic 2 - 1 Dunfermline

James Forrest’s 114th-minute strike edged Celtic past Dunfermline after the Fifers threatened to end the champions’ stranglehold on domestic silverware.

With a penalty shoot-out looming, the substitute worked space to steer a deflected effort into the far corner from 14 yards and send Celtic into the Betfred Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 home win over the Ladbrokes Championship side.

Neil Lennon’s side were looking for a lift following their European disappointment but they again started slowly and needed a wonder strike from Mikey Johnston to open the scoring 10 minutes into the second half.

But Celtic suffered a double blow when Kristoffer Ajer went off injured before Tom Beadling levelled in the 77th minute.

Dunfermline clung on during a one-sided extra-time but Forrest netted his fourth goal in as many games to make it 28 consecutive domestic cup wins for his team and keep alive the prospect of a fourth treble in a row.

The discontent among the Celtic support following their Champions League exit was evident in the much smaller and muted crowd and also a banner in the safe-standing section which accused the board of “downsizing” and “gambling 10 in a row”.

Neil Lennon made five changes following Tuesday’s defeat by Cluj. Nir Bitton, Boli Bolingoli, Christopher Jullien, Leigh Griffiths and Craig Gordon came in with Scott Brown absent and both Jozo Simunovic and Scott Bain injured.

Dunfermline had a glorious chance 11 minutes in after Jullien misjudged a long ball, but Kevin Nisbet shot wide with only Gordon to beat.

Jullien’s difficult afternoon continued. The £7 million defender gave away possession, launched into a rash tackle and then got away with a high challenge on Nisbet in the box which left the striker needing treatment on a head injury.

Late Forrest strike ensures Celtic avoid cup upset against Dunfermline

It took almost half an hour for Celtic to seriously trouble Ryan Scully. The goalkeeper pushed away Johnston’s strike after positive play from the wide man, then made decent stops from Callum McGregor and Bitton, both from long range.

Jullien then missed Celtic’s best chance of the half when he headed Bitton’s cross over the bar from four yards.

The hosts started the second half slowly but Johnston lit up proceedings when he collected the ball 25 yards out on the left channel, looked up and curled a looping effort over Scully’s dive into the far top corner.

Christie could not take two opportunities to double the lead and Dunfermline struck back soon after Ajer went off wearing a makeshift sling.

Substitute Andy Ryan got round the outside on the left and cut back for Beadling to slot into the corner from 12 yards.

Celtic had two headed chances to avoid extra-time but Bitton hit the top of the post before Jullien headed wide from close range.

The first period of extra-time resembled an attack v defence training session but the Fifers held firm. Scully made an impressive stop from substitute Olivier Ntcham’s long-range hit and Forrest headed over as the first period ended.

The one-way traffic continued and Lennon’s frustration was evident after Ntcham struck his latest ambitious strike over the bar.

But Forrest popped up with another crucial goal after collecting a pass from Hatem Abd Elhamed following a half-cleared corner.

More on this topic

Edouard puts Celtic in Europa League command to ease heat on LennonEdouard puts Celtic in Europa League command to ease heat on Lennon

Criticism of Celtic has bordered on hysteria, says boss Neil LennonCriticism of Celtic has bordered on hysteria, says boss Neil Lennon

Republic of Ireland U-19 striker signs for CelticRepublic of Ireland U-19 striker signs for Celtic

Celtic sign Republic of Ireland Under-19 forward AfolabiCeltic sign Republic of Ireland Under-19 forward Afolabi

More in this Section

Rugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV positive statusRugby legend Gareth Thomas reveals HIV positive status

Gavin: 'Life is not a straight line, there are twists and turns and cul-de-sacs'Gavin: 'Life is not a straight line, there are twists and turns and cul-de-sacs'

Kilkenny: 'It’s the most special feeling I’ve ever felt in my whole life'Kilkenny: 'It’s the most special feeling I’ve ever felt in my whole life'

Keane: 'The goal just after half-time wasn’t part of the plan'Keane: 'The goal just after half-time wasn’t part of the plan'


Lifestyle

We’ll probably be seeing a particular royal in some of these dresses.Video: Temperley’s new collection is your dream holiday wardrobe

It's been a while since we last heard from Damien Rice - four years since his last shows in Ireland, five since his last studio album.Damien Rice is joined by special guests for a truly special show

Your guide to what's on this week.Gardening notes: Your guide to what's on

Timeless, the Irish Antique Dealers Fair, continues this weekend at the RDS in Dublin and is open from 11am to 6pm today and tomorrow.In Brief: Your guide to what's on in antiques

More From The Irish Examiner