Commons brings house down with hat-trick
Kris Commons scored a hat-trick as Celtic cruised into the semi-finals of the Scottish League Cup with a comprehensive 5-0 rout of St Johnstone at Parkhead on Tuesday.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon had demanded an improvement from his side after their weekend defeat to Kilmarnock and his players answered him in style.
Lennon rang the chances with midfielders Scott Brown and Victor Wanyama returning to the starting line-up while strikers Tony Watt and Gary Hooper were also recalled.
Scotland international Commons was involved in everything Celtic were creating and handed them a 28th minute lead when he cut in from the right and smashed in a low strike which St Johnstone player Liam Craig could only divert high past his own keeper.
Commons then finished a good passing move when he fired an angled shot past Alan Mannus four minutes later before he set Hooper up to clip home goal number three in the 38th minute.
Commons completed his hat-trick in the 57th minute from the penalty spot after Watt had his shirt pulled in the box by Steven Anderson before substitute Charlie Mulgrew collected Mikel Lustig's cross at the back post to drill an angled shot beyond Mannus to complete the rout.
Lennon said he had got the response he had wanted from his players.
"I thought we were fantastic and back to playing the football we have been playing over the past three or four weeks," he said.
"In the first-half there were some great goals but the control we had of the game was very good.
"We showed the right tempo, application and quality that we know the players have. Everything we asked them to do they responded to and I really enjoyed watching it."
His St Johnstone counterpart Steve Lomas said the defeat was hard to take.
"We were off the pace and didn't start very well," Lomas admitted.
"Sometimes you have to pay credit to the team you are playing against and Celtic showed why they are champions.
"They were a class apart and head and shoulders above us tonight."
Celtic were joined in the semi-finals by St Mirren who claimed a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win against Aberdeen after the match at Pittodrie had finished 2-2 following extra time.
St Mirren had taken a sixth minute lead through Sam Parkin who headed home the rebound after Steven Thompson sent a header against the bar from Dougie Imrie's cross.
Aberdeen equalised 16 minutes later when St Mirren keeper Craig Samson was caught in no man's land from a high ball and Scott Vernon was able to nod the ball over the keeper.
The Dons had been on top in the second half before St Mirren regained the lead in the 69th minute when Kenny McLean lashed in a powerful shot from a tight angle.
The Buddies looked to be heading through until Josh Magennis slid in an equaliser two minutes into stoppage time to take the tie to extra time.
With no more goals in extra time the match headed to penalties and Stephen Hughes hit the crossbar and Cammy Smith saw his penalty saved as St Mirren moved through to the final four to end the home side's 12 game unbeaten run and leave them still searching for their first trophy since 1996.
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