Holders Celtic marched on into the semi-finals of the League Cup with an emphatic victory over Motherwell on Wednesday evening, with Ange Postecoglou’s side putting four past their hapless hosts with a brutal showing at Fir Park.
Fresh from having hit Hibernian for six at Parkhead just a few days earlier, the Old Firm outfit were again in rampant mood against Steven Hammell’s side last night, with dynamic forward Liel Abada grabbing the headlines as a result of his clinical brace.
The Israel international put the visitors ahead inside the first half after rounding off a well-worked move involving the lively Greg Taylor, before calmly slotting home after the break following opposition goalkeeper, Liam Kelly’s, tame parry.
That showing has taken the 21-year-old’s tally to eight in all competitions so far this season, with such form seemingly backing suggestions that the flying winger could now be worth as much as £15m in the near future.
It was not only the promising youngster who caught the eye, however, with Japan international Reo Hatate once again proving a thorn in the side of the Steelmen, having helped secure all three points when the two sides met earlier this season.
That previous meeting had seen the 24-year-old lash home a stunning strike after Josip Juranovic’s own goal had cancelled out Kyogo Furuhashi’s opener, although this time around the diminutive ace picked apart the opposition in a far more silky manner.
The £14.5k-per-week sensation arguably ran the show from his midfield berth on the night, notably teeing up compatriot Kyogo early in the opening period with a threaded cutback, only to see the tenacious forward somehow put his attempt wide.
The creative gem would again play in his international colleague soon after only for the forward to see his close-range shot brilliantly saved by the aforementioned Kelly, as Postecoglou’s men enjoyed a seemingly unrelenting spell of pressure.
Hatate’s most telling contribution, however, would come just past the hour mark to put his side 3-0 up, with the one-cap starlet producing an outrageous piece of trickery inside the penalty area to calmly slot the ball home, having left Well to “look like schoolboys” in the words of journalist John McGinley.
A ‘key’ figure in that triumph – as per Glasgow Live’s Ben Banks – the former Kawasaki Frontale man has again shown just what an asset he is to the Scottish champions, with his reported £1.4m fee looking more of a bargain with each passing game.