Celtic 3-0 Morton: Hoops progress to Scottish Cup semi-finals
By Charlie McFaulds
Last Updated: 06/03/16 4:46pm
Celtic progressed to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Greenock Morton.
First-half strikes from Leigh Griffiths, Gary Mackay-Steven and Callum McGregor were enough to secure the win as the home side eased off after the interval at Celtic Park.
Mackay-Steven had an early opportunity to give the Hoops the lead when he dispossessed Morton full-back Lee Kilday and burst into the box, but he tried to find Griffiths in the middle of the penalty area instead of shooting.
But Mackay-Steven was more successful on 14 minutes when Kieran Tierney played a short pass inside to the winger who sent a chip to the back post which was misjudged by Thomas O'Ware and Griffiths had time to trap the ball before shooting between the goalkeeper and his post.
Morton tried to hit back when Joe McKee latched on to a loose ball inside his own half and strode forward to test Craig Gordon from 40 yards, but the Celtic 'keeper got right behind the ball to make a solid save.
Celtic had been pressing their opponents and moving the ball faster to unsettle Morton from the very start of the match, and another quick exchange ended with Stefan Johansen sliding a pass ahead of Griffiths and his first-time drive was blocked by the foot of Derek Gaston.
A minute later, Griffiths linked with Mackay-Steven (25), who laid the ball off to Tierney who beat McKee and returned his pass to the winger to blast his shot past Gaston from six yards.
Two minutes later, Gordon had to be alert to deal with a half-volley from Stefan McCluskey as the ball broke to the Morton midfielder at a corner, this time the Celtic stopper pushing the ball away as it dropped inside the six-yard box.
McGregor put the game beyond Morton 10 minutes later when he twisted past Michael Miller and ran 15 yards towards the penalty area to send a curling drive into the far corner from the edge of the 'D'.
Seconds before that goal Kris Commons just failed to get enough contact on a close-range header from a Tierney cross and he had earlier had a shot blocked inside the box.
Griffiths was also denied by some last-ditch defending on two other occasions as Celtic stretched the Championship side at will.
Morton defender Miller was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card in the dying seconds of the first half for a late challenge on Johansen, who was helped off the pitch and replaced as a result, but referee Willie Collum did not even award a free-kick.
Commons again tried to get among the goals six minutes after the break when he curled a free-kick from 25 yards over the wall, but Gaston got across to his left to make a confident save.
Griffiths was replaced by Patrick Roberts with around an hour played and the substitute almost made an immediate impact when he nipped past two Morton defenders and smacked the foot of the post from 20 yards.
A minute later, Roberts weaved into some space at the edge of the box and laid the ball off to Commons, who threaded a pass to substitute Colin Kazim-Richards and he rifled his angled shot into the side-netting from six yards.
Morton had their best opportunity on 68 minutes when the ball dropped to Declan McManus at a corner and his first-time shot from four yards was blocked by Gordon.
Roberts again opened up the visitors with a quick sprint into the right side of the box and his chip to the back post was deflected by a defender to the feet of Mackay-Steven who crashed a shot off the underside of the bar.
Gaston was again called into action when Celtic's final substitute Stuart Armstrong stung his palms with a swerving drive from 22 yards.
Morton were denied a consolation when Bobby Barr, who was booked for a cynical challenge on Armstrong, had a shot deflected inches wide of the target by Erik Sviatchenko three minutes from the end.