Celtic 4 Dumbarton 0: Zurawski zips away to teach Sons a lesson

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The Independent Online

It was 31 years ago that Walter Smith pulled on a Dumbarton shirt and scored the goal which denied them a place in the Scottish Cup final. Yesterday, it took around £7 million worth of talent to do that.

Celtic's expensive trio of Maciej Zurawski, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Derek Riordan halted the Sons' progress, ensuring that their older fans would have to live a little longer off that semi-final defeat in 1976 when the Scotland manager's own goal helped Hearts to triumph. Celtic enjoyed a comfortable passage to erase the painful memories of last season's third round when they were humbled by Clyde, who ruined the debut of Roy Keane.

There was little chance of a similar shock once Zurawski had put Celtic 2-0 up after just nine minutes. Shunsuke Nakamura opened up Dumbarton after four minutes with a perfect ball over the top for Zurawski to guide a deft lob over the keeper Stephen Grindlay. Five minutes later, the pair combined again as the midfielder picked out Zurawski at the back post for the striker to chest the ball down before thumping a volley past Grindlay.

Dumbarton currently languish in the third division but they were among the pioneering forces in Scotland. They won the Scottish Cup in 1883 and shared their one and only title in 1890 with Rangers after ending level on points. Celtic are relative whippersnappers, only formed in 1888 but a year later they met Dumbarton in their first ever Scottish Cup meeting in the semi-finals, winning 4-1.

Dumbarton have made their name by finding players such as Murdo McLeod, who starred for Celtic and Borussia Dortmund, and Ian Wallace whom Brian Clough signed for £1m at Nottingham Forest. The current generation do not have that pedigree but the manager Gerry McCabe would have been pleased with their competitive nature, not least Chris Gentile, whose distant relationship to the ex-Italy hardman, Claudio Gentile, was highlighted by a crunching tackle on Evander Sno.

Dumbarton came close to finding the net in the 25th minute when Paul McQuilken's shot was turned off the line by Vennegoor of Hesselink and after Zurawski had been denied his hat-trick by the post - thwarting his elegant rounding of Grindlay - the Dutchman performed his real job at the other end of the pitch.

Grindlay parried Vennegoor of Hesselink's original shot after Zurawski's menacing cross. The ball broke to Aiden McGeady and ricocheted off his head back towards goal. Grindlay, on his knees, pushed the ball onto the bar but Vennegoor pounced.

Celtic sent on Riordan at half-time and after keeping the striker out for 25 minutes, he found a way through. The former Hibernian player gathered Zurawski's threaded pass and clipped an angled right-foot finish beyond Grindlay. However, Grindlay continued to perform heroics, denying Vennegoor another goal by pawing his hook shot wide.

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