Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic have overcome a tricky hurdle at League One side Alloa Athletic 2-1 to earn a place in the Scottish Cup fifth round and keep their hopes alive of securing a second trophy of the Australian manager’s reign.
First-half goals from Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis and winger Liel Abada had the Hoops comfortably ahead by the interval against the underdogs at the Indodrill Stadium.
That former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson was the third-tier hosts’ boss added spice to a tie which became interesting when Alloa striker Conor Sammon’s header reduced the deficit with 12 minutes left.
Celtic denied their hosts any clear-cut opportunities to draw level but their victory came at some cost as skipper Callum McGregor, Abada and Yosuke Ideguchi left the game through injury.
“Liel and Yosuke should be OK, Cal’s a significant injury,” said Postecoglou, whose side were drawn at home to Raith Rovers in the next round.
“It’s a facial injury, I don’t know what it is but he’s not a great shape. It’s not going to be short-term, it looked quite significant.
“It’s been that sort of season. We have just had challenge after challenge and what we’ve done so far is just get on with it.”
Celtic, already with the League Cup in the bag, progressed but Scottish Cup holders St Johnstone crashed out of the tournament in embarrassing fashion with a 1-0 defeat to part-timers Kelty Hearts.
The double cup holders were unbeaten in knockout competition last season but succumbed to a 10th successive loss as they stumbled at the first hurdle courtesy of Kallum Higginbotham’s strike in the 13th minute of extra-time.
St Johnstone are rock bottom in the Premiership with the pressure now ramping up on under-fire manager Callum Davidson.
In other ties for the next round, Rangers will play bottom-tier opposition again after being drawn with Annan — having seen off Stirling on Friday.
Motherwell will host Aberdeen and Hearts take on Livingston at Tynecastle in the only two all-Premiership ties of the last 16.
Kelty were rewarded for their upset win with a trip to play St Mirren, Hibernian face a trip to play Championship leaders Arbroath, Dundee United will play second-tier Partick Thistle and Dundee are away at Peterhead.
The ties will be played around the weekend of February 12-13.