11 Feb 5 things we learned this weekend in the William Hill Scottish Cup
The William Hill Scottish Cup grabbed the headlines this weekend with holders Celtic making their way through to the quarter-finals with a 3-2 win over fellow Ladbrokes Premiership side Partick Thistle.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we learned in the fifth round.
1. James Forrest is in the form of his life
The Scotland winger scored his first hat-trick for Celtic as the Hoops overcame Thistle 3-2 at Parkhead. Forest scored twice within 10 minutes before a mistake by defender Jozo Simunovic allowed Jags striker Kris Doolan to reduce the deficit. The former Parkhead youth player grabbed a third in the 53rd minute and although Thistle substitute Conon Sammon grabbed a second for the visitors, the holders went through. Forrest was described by Brendan Rodgers as the “class act” on the pitch and he will be looking for more when Celtic face Zenit St Petersburg in the first-leg of their Europa League on Thursday.
2. Craig Levein’s Hearts prove they have the stomach for the battle
Under Ian Cathro, the Jambos looked like a side incapable of defending itself. But since Levein has taken charge at Tynecastle, a rod of steel has been inserted into the spine of the Gorgie outfit. They demonstrated that once again as they stood firm in the face of St Johnstone’s aggressive approach during Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup clash. When the Perth men launched all manner of high balls into the box as they sought to respond to Kyle Lafferty’s early opener, Hearts refused to blink. Demetri Mitchell’s stunning second then broke the nerve of Tommy Wright’s team, with Lafferty adding a second to ensure they claimed their first quarter-final slot since their triumphant Hampden run back in 2012.
3. New Dundee defender Genseric Kusunga takes no prisoners
The Angola centre-back somehow got through his debut without a yellow card despite swiping Nadir Ciftci’s legs from behind and then smashing the Motherwell striker with a body-check. The defender also looks a threat in the opposing box but he missed the target with a decent headed chance and could not prevent his side falling to a 2-0 home defeat.
4. Rangers can be ruthless
The Ibrox side hit Ayr United for six in their William Hill Scottish Cup tie at Somerset Park. The Gers were rocked when Alan Forrest gave the Honest Men a 10th minute lead but returning striker Alfredo Morelos levelled for the Ladbrokes Premiership side on the half-hour mark before Rangers went on the rampage. Graeme Murty’s side were ruthless after the break as Jason Cummings struck from close range in the 65th minute before a double from Josh Windass, one either side of Morelos’s second, preceded a last-minute counter from Jamie Murphy demolished Ayr’s hopes of a cup upset.
5. Gary Mackay-Steven gives a reminder of his talent
The Aberdeen winger was instrumental in the 4-2 win over his former club Dundee United at Pittodrie on Sunday. The 27-year-old set up Adam Rooney’s opener before grabbing himself a double, one either side of a Kenny McLean header. Mackay-Steven’s contribution, while taking his goal tally to the season to seven, rendered Sam Stanton and Paul McMullan’s goals a mere consolation for the visitors.