Aside from a goal on his debut from late substitute Timothy Weah, there appeared to be little of lasting note about the Scottish Cup holders overwhelming a stoic Airdrieonians. Except that in notching the 3-0 victory Celtic recorded a 23rd straight domestic cup win under Brendan Rodgers.
His cup run now equals the record set by Walter Smith’s Rangers side between 1992 and 1994. Celtic will now take to the pitch for their
fifth-round tie next month knowing that success will ensure the longest sequence of cup wins in the annals of Scottish football.
The treble-treble seekers will hope there is greater pizazz about their game in the coming weeks than there was last night. Ultimately, they did win at a canter courtesy of Scott Sinclair helping himself to a double, but the bells and whistles – and the Parkhead light show – were reserved for the teenager from Paris Saint-Germain. Weah only came on in the 70th minute and both the home support and the home team both seemed notably pepped up his introduction. Within 13 minutes, Weah pounced on a sumptuous through ball from Dedryck Boyata and buried it low into the corner.
“It lived up to my expectations,” the youngster gushed of starting his six-month loan spell in earnest. “It’s probably the best experience I have had, playing in front of those Celtic fans.
“When I scored it was something out of a dream. It’s amazing to see that at such a young age. If this is just the minimum [with the stadium half full] that’s insane. I can’t imagine how it is when it’s full. It’s crazy. I’m really honoured and blessed to be here.”
Celtic took time to get going, but that was owed in no small part to the defensive discipline exhibited by their opponents. The contest in microcosm was the curious afternoons experienced by Sinclair and visiting keeper David Hutton.
Hutton produced some smart saves, and indeed denied Sinclair from the penalty spot in the 30th minute, the award given by Andrew Dallas after Chris O’Neill tripped Emilio Izaguirre. With the tie then deadlocked, Hutton brilliantly clawed the ball away with one hand down to his right. However only minutes later, and just after Sinclair had missed a howler from two yards out, he slapped the ball into the winger’s path to allow him to knock home from close in. The Airdrie keeper was guilty of knocking the ball out for Sinclair to clip in the second 68 minutes in. In fairness, it seemed then he was caught out by a Boyata header from a Ryan Christie corner flashing towards him via a deflection from Leighton McIntosh.
Sinclair then ought to have had a hat-trick when he had the ball in the net after Hutton had pushed out a snapshot from Oliver Burke. Television pictures showed he was onside, and this was the only real grumble that Rodgers had on an evening where his pre-match thoughts were required to turn to the future of Celtic captain Scott Brown. Reports have suggested that Australian A-League club Western Melbourne are confident they can entice the 33-year-old with the offer of a three-year deal.
Rodgers said Brown needed to make a decision “soon”, stating that he remained “hopeful” that he would sign a contract extension. “He knows he’ll have to make a decision, and he wants to make a decision, to be fair,” said Rodgers. Clarity is expected this week.