(og 26, Montgomery 29, Ewens 55, Howat 68
In a match in which they controlled throughout, Celtic earned themselves a place in the Premier League Cup semi-final draw where they join Hibernian, Spartans and Glasgow City. Two goals in each half gave them a 4-1 victory after the 90 minutes.
A high-tempo start from the Hoops saw them set the tone for the first 45 minutes. Good possession and swift passing from Celtic meant that the game was almost entirely played in the Hearts half.
Natalie Ross and Kerry Montgomery were prominent as usual in the Celtic midfield and they provided a constant supply of ball to wide players Heather Richards and Kirsty Howat.
In spite of their superiority in possession, however, they were unable to direct a shot on target until 15 minutes when a well-struck shot from Howat from a central position was safely held by the Hearts keeper.
Following a series of corners from both wings, Celtic made the breakthrough after 26 minutes when a Howat corner on the left dropped on top of the challenging players almost on the goal-line and the ball was deflected into goal by a Hearts defender.
With Howat on dead-ball duty for this occasion, she was once again involved when the Hoops increased their lead only three minutes later. Following yet another corner on the right, this time played low into the penalty area, Montgomery reacted most quickly on the turn to flick the ball into the net.
Their lead was well merited and Celtic continued to probe left and right. Howat and Heather Richards were still seeing a lot of the ball, but centre-midfielder Darcy McFarlane, recently arrived from California, was really catching the eye with her skilful control and astute use of the ball. There was no further scoring before the interval although Celtic had almost total control.
After the break, Ross was first to have a shot at goal, but was unable to find the target. This was followed minutes later by a shot from Ruesha Littlejohn which crept past the post.
Celtic’s play was less fluent than earlier, but they were still able to increase their lead in 55 minutes when a Howat cross was whipped in with pace from the left. This was converted with a flashing header from striker Sarah Ewens who opened her account after joining Celtic in the close season.
Much of the play continued in Hearts’ half and McFarlane almost increased the lead only minutes after the third goal when she struck a fierce drive from almost 30 yards, only to see it rebound from the crossbar.
The scoring was completed by Howat with about 20 minutes left when she cut inside and shot high into the net, well beyond the keeper’s reach.
During this last 20 minutes Celtic manager David Haley made five changes to the line-up which gave important game-time to several fringe players including 16-year-old Jamie-Lee Napier who looks to have a great future in the game.
Hearts scored with only a few minutes left when Hall gathered a long ball which had eluded the Celtic back line and calmly rolled it beyond Megan Cunningham.
Celtic were never fully tested in this match but after the substitutions Hearts could have had a few opportunities to score had in not been centre back Georgie Rafferty who several times very cleverly dispossessed forwards when danger threatened.
Celtic: Cunningham, Poucel (Dalgliesh), Rafferty, Clark (Hodges), Ross (Fulton), Montgomery, McFarlane, Howat, Ewens (McBrearty), Richards (Napier), Littlejohn. Subs not used: Gibson, Fitzsimmons.
Reported by Celtic FC
Picture: Celtic FC