Three second-half goals were enough for SPL leaders Celtic to secure their way into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals against first division Raith Rovers on a difficult playing surface at Stark’s Park.
Kris Commons converted a penalty after being fouled inside the area by Simon Mensing just before the hour-mark before substitute James Forrest and Charlie Mulgrew added further efforts inside the final ten minutes.
Celtic were first to show with Victor Wanyama and Commons both off-target while there were unsuccessful penalty claims when Mulgrew’s delivery struck the hand of Eddie Malone. Home keeper David McGurn was also forced into action by both Mulgrew and Wanyama before Adam Matthews’ cross into the box fuelled more shouts for handball.
Mulgrew’s inviting supplies were continuing to offer clear danger and another corner was only just scrambled clear at the far post before the advancing Matthews drilled narrowly over at the start of the second-half. He also crossed for Tony Watt to turn inches wide while the previously untroubled Lukasz Zaluska fended away an awkward Brian Graham free-kick at the other end.
But when the twisting Commons confused Mensing into a clumsy challenge just inside his own area referee Stephen McLean immediately pointed to the spot and Commons drilled in low for his tenth goal of the season.
Goalscorer Commons nearly added another but for a fine save from McGurn until some dazzling footwork from Gary Hooper allowed substitute Scott Brown to screw a left-footed effort wide of the near post.
Celtic then made the contest totally safe with two goals inside a four-minute period as first the dashing Forrest romped into the box and guided beyond McGurn despite a frantic attempt to clear off the line.
Mulgrew then expertly swept a left-footed finish into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the area to guarantee safe passage for the visitors into the last eight of the competition.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Malowne, Mensing, Ellis, Anderson (Spence 74), Smith (Anderson 65), Walker, Hamill (Callachan 90), Graham, Clarke
subs (unused): Laidlaw, Donaldson, Spence
Celtic: Zaluska, Matthews, Lustig, Wilson, Mulgrew, Kayal (Brown 60), Wanyama, Ledley, Commons (Stokes 75), Watt (Forrest 60), Hooper
subs (unused): Fasan, Lassad
Goals: Commons (pen 56), Forrest (83), Mulgrew (86)
Ref: S. McLean
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