New signing John Guidetti scored his first goal in Scotland, whilst a Kris Commons penalty and Adam Eckersley’s own goal left Hearts out of the tournament and cursing wasted opportunities of their own.
After Jamie Walker struck the crossbar late in the first half, the visitors could only rue a missed penalty by Osman Sow early in the second period. The Swede blazed the ball over the crossbar with the score at 1-0 after Virgil van Dijk was judged to have impeded him inside the 18-yard box.
It was a game largely controlled by Celtic, who exploited space in behind Hearts right-back Callum Paterson frequently in the first half. The second saw them focus more through the middle, with a series of through balls causing consternation amongst visiting central defenders Alim Ozturk and Danny Wilson.
Guidetti was fouled by Ozturk for the penalty which brought Celtic’s second, and their third was unexpectedly turned into his own net by Eckersley. Hearts may reside in the Championship these days but they were not disgraced at the home of the Scottish Premiership champions.
In an open start to this tie, there were several goal attempts at both ends of the field. Van Dijk’s toe denied Sow a tap-in from close range before Celtic missed a fine opportunity on 15 minutes. Ozturk allowed a loose ball to run inside the box and Guidetti stole in behind the Turk, who was too concerned with trying to block his opponent. The striker’s finish bounced about a yard past Neil Alexander’s right post
The goalkeeper then held a shot from Commons as Celtic asserted themselves. On 22 minutes, their captain Scott Brown stung Alexander’s palms from 18 yards. A goal was looming at that stage and it arrived 60 seconds later. Wilson could only partially clear Emilio Izaguirre’s swinging left-sided cross, and Guidetti lashed the drop ball into the net from around eight yards to make amends for his earlier miss.
Eckersley cleared another attempt off the goal line a minute later as Hearts tried to stabilise things under intense pressure. They composed themselves but continued to be penetrated down their right flank. Izaguirre was often scampering in behind to deliver dangerous crosses. From one of them, Alexander showed excellent reactions to prevent a second goal ricocheting into his net off midfielder Morgaro Gomis.
As the interval approached, Hearts were presented with a glorious chance to equalise. A casual backpass by Izaguirre gifted the ball to Walker, but his first-time shot thundered against the crossbar and bounced clear.
An even better chance was handed to Sow ten minutes after the interval. Van Dijk was penalised by referee Willie Collum for pulling the Swede down inside the box. Sow took the resultant penalty kick but sent it soaring over Craig Gordon’s crossbar. He would rue his profligacy even more a minute later when Celtic were awarded the penalty which would put this tie out of Hearts’ reach.
Ozturk careered into Guidetti and floored the Celtic striker, leaving Collum no option but to point to the spot. Commons showed Sow how to do it with a clinical drive low past Alexander. Five minutes later, Eckersley inadvertently chested Anthony Stokes’ cross into his own net at the back post. At 3-0, Celtic were cruising into the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
Celtic: (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer (O’Connell 46), Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Johansen; McGregor (Tonev 72), Commons, Stokes; Guidetti (Scepovic 64). Subs: Zaluska, Biton, Griffiths, Kayal.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Alexander; Paterson, Ozturk, Wilson, Eckersley; Buaben, Gomis; Carrick (Holt 63), Nicholson, Walker (Keatings 77); Sow (El Hassnaoui 77). Subs: Gallacher, McHattie, Robinson, McGhee.
Referee: Willie Collum.