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League Cup Last 16 Review: Ross County stun Celtic, Rangers ease through

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Celtic’s stranglehold on Scottish football was brought to an abrupt halt on Sunday evening after a 2-0 home defeat to Ross County.

A run of 35 consecutive victories in domestic cup competitions, which stretched back to 2016 and in which Celtic averaged over three goals per game, ended in Glasgow as a Ross Stewart penalty and Alex Lacovitti’s header sent Neil Lennon’s side tumbling out of the League Cup Last 16.

Pressure on the Celtic boss is now at tipping point, with many questioning whether it is a matter of time before the 49-year-old loses his job. He has now presided over just two victories in his last ten matches.

Ross County will proudly enter the Quarter Final draw as the first side to better Celtic in a cup game since Rangers over four years ago.

Rangers’ relentless start to the season continued as they eased to a 4-0 win over League One side Falkirk.

Jermaine Defoe gave the Gers an early lead from a tight angle, before Calvin Ughelumba doubled their advantage.

Borna Barisic made it three just before half-time with a well-struck free kick, and James Tavernier rounded off the scoring at the Falkirk Stadium early in the second half.

Steven Gerrard’s men will be pleased at recording yet another clean sheet and they can look forward to a Celtic-less League Cup campaign.

There were two all-Premiership clashes on Saturday, with Motherwell facing off against St Johnstone for the second time in a week. After a draw in their league encounter seven days previously, there was no room for stalemates this time around.

Tony Watt’s goal put the Steelmen in a strong position with half an hour remaining, but two quick Saints’ replies from Callum Hendry and David Wotherspoon sent the away side home to Perth with a 2-1 victory.

St Mirren pulled off a shock result in Paisley as they secured a 2-1 win of their own, ending Aberdeen’s hopes of another cup run.

Niall McGinn cancelled out Ilkay Durmus’ free kick , but a late howler from goalkeeper Joe Lewis handed the Saints a well-earned spot in the next stage after Jamie McGrath’s speculative effort.

Alloa Athletic pulled off a shock result against Scottish Cup finalists Hearts, emerging victorious after extra-time. Alan Trouten’s penalty, awarded after a foul by Jamie Walker, gave the Championship strugglers a 1-0 win.

Hearts’ city rivals Hibernian had better luck against Dundee, with Jamie Murphy continuing his goalscoring streak of late with the only goal of the game.

Premiership side Livingston began life without ex-manager Gary Holt in emphatic style. They were able to put their poor league form aside as a Jack Fitzwater double and Alan Forrest strike, after a Joe Chalmers own goal had given them the lead.

A 4-0 win over Ayr United was the perfect result for caretaker-boss David Martindale.

A lower league clash between Arbroath and Dunfermline ended 3-1 in favour of the away side. Dale Hilson pulled a goal back after Ryan Dow and Euan Murray gave Dunfermline the lead, before Kevin O’Hara made sure of the win from the penalty spot.

Performance of the round

Ross County – There were a number of strong performances over the weekend, but Ross County have to take the plaudits this time around. They became the first team to beat Celtic in a domestic cup since mid-2016, and did so via a resound and hard-working showing.

Weekend to forget

Heart of Midlothian – Celtic were perhaps the biggest scalp claimed, but a bad run of form had foreshadowed their exit. Hearts, on the other hand, have reached two consecutive Scottish Cup finals and would have hoped for more cup success here against a side struggling badly in the league. Both their defeat and the manner of it will frustrate boss Robbie Neilson.

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Journalist for the Lynn News. Journalism graduate from Stirling University. Part-time (and overly harsh) film critic.

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