Celtic 5 Brechin 0
Holders Celtic eased into the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a 5-0 home win over struggling Brechin.
The visitors arrived bottom of the Ladbrokes Championship without a league win all season and hopes of a shock result at Parkhead disappeared as early as the second minute when winger James Forrest opened the scoring with a simple finish.
Provider Scott Sinclair helped himself to a goal soon afterwards with midfielder Olivier Ntcham, defender Dedryck Boyata and striker Odsonne Edouard adding further strikes after the break.
Celtic’s James Forrest scores his side’s first goal at Celtic Park. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA
It was a comfortable afternoon for the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders on their return from a three-week winter break which included a training camp in Dubai.
Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers gave Brechin the respect of naming a strong side and he gave 20-year-old French striker Edouard the chance to lead the line.
When the game got under way after a minute’s applause in tribute to former West Brom, Coventry and England striker Cyrille Regis, who died this week, the treble winners immediately demonstrated their prowess when Sinclair, in the first of many speedy runs into the Brechin box, cut the ball back for Forrest to guide in from eight yards.
In the 11th minute Celtic doubled their lead when midfielder Callum McGregor intercepted a pass from James Dale inside the visitors’ box and Sinclair swept in the loose ball on the angle.
The lower league side caused a scare in the 16th minute when Euan Spark’s angled-drive from the left was cleared past his own post by Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer but only by inches.
However, amid numerous efforts on the Brechin goal, away keeper Graeme Smith did enough to deny Ntcham when he raced through with the midfielder then firing wide from 25 yards after a similar effort from Sinclair.
The interval gave Darren Dods’ side some respite which ended three minutes into the second half when Ntcham rose inside the six-yard box to bullet in a header from a Mikael Lustig cross after the full-back had been set up by Edouard.
The afternoon had the potential to become painful for City as Boyata easily headed in a McGregor corner in the 55th minute before he came off with skipper Scott Brown, replaced by Nir Bitton and Eboue Kouassi.
However, Brechin kept their shape and in a brief spell of pressure, Hoops keeper Craig Gordon tipped a header from defender Paul McLean over the bar before Sean Crighton headed wide seconds later from close range.
The Parkhead side appeared a little sloppy and they were given a let off when Brechin substitute Isaac Layne, on for Andy Jackson, escaped the attention of Ajer inside the penalty area only to fire wide of the far post.
Celtic, understandably, ended the game on top with Edouard skying a shot over the bar from six yards in the 84th minute before confidently rifling a drive from 10 yards past Smith a minute later after taking a pass from Lustig.