Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou felt all of his players hit the ground running as his much-changed team beat Ross County 4-1 in the Premier Sports Cup.
Postecoglou made nine changes following Sunday’s record 9-0 away win over Dundee United and Celtic continued their free-scoring form to set up a quarter-final trip to face Motherwell.
Callum McGregor and Giorgos Giakoumakis hit the target in a dominant first-half display and Daizen Maeda and James Forrest netted late on after Alex Iacovitti scored his second goal against the champions this season.
Postecoglou handed debuts to goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist and impressive substitute Sead Haksabanovic, while Alexandro Bernabei and Aaron Mooy made their first starts for the club.
Postecoglou said: “Obviously I made nine changes and that can easily affect the fluency or cohesion of the team. But I keep saying these boys are training really hard every day and are prepared for their opportunity.
“They showed that tonight, they were outstanding. It’s a difficult venue – to win 4-1 away from home and the performance was a credit to the players.
“We didn’t have anyone who didn’t perform to the levels we want them to and they aspire to.
“For a lot of them it was their first start and they could easily have used this game as an excuse to build into the season but no-one out there looked like they hadn’t been playing.
“I picked the team that I thought would win us the game, I didn’t pick it looking ahead to other games.
“We put a lot into the weekend and we could have gone with the same team but wouldn’t have got the same energy.
“We started really strong and had a good tempo.
“The only reason we haven’t changed the team much is we have only had one game a week.
“That’s not the case from now on. Now I can rotate the team and make sure we have everyone in really good condition.”
Postecoglou’s men will travel to Fir Park in mid-October for the quarter-finals.
“Another away game, it would be nice to be at home at some point,” he said. “The important thing is we have another round to go.”
County boss Malky Mackay was proud of the way his team competed.
Mackay said: “First half we let ourselves down with the two goals but we stayed in the game and were resilient.
“Second half I decided to make a couple of changes and go man for man all over the pitch.
“We came back in the game and scored and the momentum was with us, I have got to be proud of them for that.
“The third was a poor goal to lose and that burst our bubble a bit but we kept going until the end.”