Celtic 2-0 Alloa: Late strikes seal Betfred Cup semi-final spot
By James Dale
Last Updated: 22/09/16 8:36am
Late goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele saw Brendan Rodgers' Celtic reach the final four of the Betfred Cup in a nervy 2-0 home win against lower-league Alloa Athletic.
Alloa goalkeeper Neil Parry repeatedly denied the home side at Celtic Park on Wednesday night and looked to have done enough to take Rodgers' team to extra-time but the Bhoys finally found a breakthrough to win for the first time in three games.
Celtic came into the match on the back of their worst-ever defeat in Europe - a humiliating 7-0 loss to Barcelona at the Nou Camp - and having lost their perfect start to the Scottish Premiership season with a draw at Inverness on Sunday.
However, it was all Celtic in the opening stages as Alloa goalkeeper Neil Parry and defender Andy Graham threw themselves in front of Dembele, who could not find the net from six yards out, while 19-year-old Kieran Tierney smashed a left-footed volley against the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Forrest, making his 200th appearance for Celtic, had the best chance of the half in the 37th minute but he put his shot wide from less than 12 yards out.
Having not been tested at all during the first half, Craig Gordon was then lucky not to be sent off just before the break as he was booked for a dangerous tackle on Greg Spence after charging out of his penalty area.
Half-time substitute Scott Sinclair immediately cut inside and drove a fierce strike just past the post before firing high and wide from close range minutes later as Celtic continued to waste efforts in front of goal.
Alloa's first corner of the game in the 58th minute resulted in a swift Celtic counter-attack which was only thwarted by the onrushing Parry, who saved from Dembele one-on-one to keep the scores level.
Forrest twice tested Parry's nerve in the second half as Celtic pushed in search for a winner and they finally broke the deadlock just eight minutes from time, cutting inside from the right and shooting back across the Alloa goalkeeper with his weaker left foot.
Dembele then smashed a right-footed shot into the top corner on the stroke of 90 minutes to seal his side's place in the final four of the competition.