Velicka's late double strike embarrasses erratic Celtic

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The Independent Online

Celtic's erratic season took another downturn last night when they were knocked out of the CIS Cup in the quarter-finals, losing 2-0 at home to Hearts.

Substitute Andrius Velicka scored twice in the second-half in front of just 21,492 at Celtic Park. Facing a strong Celtic line-up that included the fit again Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Velicka grabbed the opener in controversial circumstances with 76 minutes gone, driving home a superb cut-back from Andrew Driver despite claims the ball had gone out of play.

Adrian McGeady then appeared to handle the ball in the box as Celtic wilted, but nothing was given before Hearts confirmed their place in today's semi-final draw when Velicka bagged his second of the night with a superb 20-yard shot five minutes from time.

There were no such problems for the other half of the Old Firm. Rangers' away form this season has been notably patchy, but they came safely through what had looked a potentially tricky trip to Motherwell. Spanish striker Nacho Novo put Rangers ahead in the 22nd minute with a hooked shot from 10 metres after captain Barry Ferguson had thudded a fourth minute free-kick against the post.

Kris Boyd put the visitors firmly in control when he ran on to a Novo pass after 54 minutes to crack a low 15-metre shot under advancing goalkeeper Graeme Smith to make it 2-0. Motherwell's Paul Quinn forced in a late consolation goal.

"It was a proper cup tie as we expected and we are obviously delighted to win," said Rangers manager Walter Smith.

Aberdeen had their semi-final place wrapped-up by half-time against Inverness at Pittodrie. Two Barry Nicholson penalties and a Lee Miller strike in the last minute of the half. Nicholson completed his hat-trick in the second-half as Aberdeen won 4-1.

Dundee United's Noel Hunt also scored a hat-trick as Hamilton were beaten 3-1 at Tannadice.