Two first half goals earned Celtic a narrow 2-1 over Alloa Athletic and a place in the Scottish Cup fifth-round.
The visitors opened the scoring after 14 minutes when a Liam Scales cross was met by Giorgos Giakoumakis with a volley at the front post. Liel Abada then scored with a cultured finish before half-time. Celtic could have extended their lead but substitute Alan Trouten’s introduction added energy to the home side in the second half and fellow substitute Stefan Scougall’s crossed to the back post for Connor Sammon to head home with 12 minutes remaining.
Conor Sammon’s late header gave the part-timers hope as the visitors passed up a flurry of second-half chances.
But Barry Ferguson’s third-tier side were unable to force extra-time as Celtic saw the game out comfortably.
The League Cup holders will welcome Raith Rovers in the last 16 on weekend of 12/13 February.
The Premiership side’s wastefulness will be a cause for concern for boss Ange Postecoglou, who was dealt a blow as trio Callum McGregor, Yosuke Ideguchi and Abada all suffered injuries.
Captain McGregor was substituted following a first-half head knock, while Ideguchi and Abada were on the end of strong tackles.
“Abada and Yosuke [Ideguchi] should be okay,” Postecoglou said. “Cal [McGregor] is the one we’re most concerned about. It’s a facial injury; he’s not a great shape. It’s not going to be short-term, it looked quite significant.”
Kallum Higginbotham’s breakaway goal in extra time gave League Two side Kelty Hearts a sensational 1-0 win at home over cup holders St Johnstone in the biggest shock of the day. It is another blow to hapless St Johnstone who sit at the foot of the Premiership table having lost their last 10 matches after winning the cup double last season.
The opening goalscorer had the chance to double the lead moments later, but failed to scoop an effort on target when through on goal.
Celtic continued to probe as Daizen Maeda had a near-post effort turned behind, but Alloa did well to avoid passing up a host of chances even though Ferguson’s men were chasing shadows.
The League 1 side stuck in there, though, and very nearly got themselves back in the game when Sammon raced through and struck on the volley, only for Celtic keeper Joe Hart to make a big save.
The hosts were made to pay for that miss when Abada came off the right and guided in an excellent left-foot finish high into the far corner.
Abada maintained his level of threat before he had to be forced off, with Alloa keeper David Hutton clawing a dangerous cross from the 20-year-old off the line.
Hutton bettered that stop soon after, tipping a diving header from Maeda round his near post, while at the other end Sammon gave Hart no chance with a header of his own, glancing into the far corner.
That fuelled the part-time hosts with hope, who gave their all until the final minute when Alan Trouten’s eyes lit up on the edge of the area, but the 36-year-old fluffed his lines with the game’s last chance.
Alloa Athletic manager Barry Ferguson: “I’m delighted with the effort my players put in, I’m proud of the boys. The second goal killed us a wee bit.
Liam Boyce scored two goals on his return from injury as Heart of Midlothian defeated West of Scotland league side Auchinleck Talbot 5-0 at Beechwood. Andy Halliday, Peter Haring and Alex Cochrane were also on target.
First-half goals from Kyle McAllister and Greg Kiltie secured the win for Jim Goodwin’s side.
Ayo Oblieye’s 16th-minute penalty narrowly won Livingston the all Premiership tie at home to Ross County. Fellow top-flight team St Mirren sealed their place in the fifth round with a 2-0 victory at Ayr United.
Aberdeen eased their way into the fifth round after a dominant 3-0 win over Edinburgh City of League Two.
The Dons were never troubled by their lower-league opponents and first-half strikes from Ryan Hedges and Christian Ramirez had the match won, before Lewis Ferguson added a third after 90 minutes with a looping header.
Dylan Levitt scored in extra-time as Dundee United edged through 2-1 against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. United started in the right vein with Marc McNulty’s strike but Killie levelled the scoring 16 minutes later through Rory McKenzie.
Championship high-fliers Arbroath beat Darvel 3-0 with three goals from Jack Hamilton at Gayfield Park while an extra-time strike from Liam Donnelly won Motherwell a hard-fought tie with Morton 2-1 at Fir Park.