Holders Celtic showed no mercy to 10-man Dundee United to move convincingly into the Scottish Cup semi-finals.

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster's superb save denied Jonny Russell from close range before Robbie Neilson was sent off after 28 minutes.

His elbow into the face of Georgios Samaras handed Celtic the advantage.

And Joe Ledley swept home a 53rd-minute opener, Samaras headed the second, while Anthony Stokes fired another and Scott Brown scored a late penalty.

The Greek had returned to Neil Lennon's side along with fit-again captain Scott Brown, Adam Matthews and Victor Wanyama, with Kelvin Wilson, Kris Commons, Mikael Lustig and Andre Blackman dropping out.

United manager Peter Houston, though, not surprisingly retained the starting line-up that defeated Inverness Caley Thistle 3-0 last weekend.

The two sides started at breakneck speed and, despite the entertainment being on a high in the Tannadice sunshine, two strong defences limited the early chances.

Former Celtic midfielder Willo Flood's cross found Jon Daly 14 yards from goal and the striker threw himself low to head just wide, although it appeared that an offside flag would have ruled out a goal in any case.

Neilson's elbow into the face of Samaras reduced United to 10 men

Neilson's elbow into the face of Samaras reduced United to 10 men

Only the heroics of Forster prevented United taking the lead after 28 minutes when Gary Mackay-Steven's low cross from the bye-line was met by Jonny Russell.

The striker's low drive was parried by the goalkeeper from point-blank range and Russell was unable to gather Daly's mis-hit volley across the face of goal on the rebound.

However, United moments later pressed the self-destruct button when Neilson, who had already picked up a yellow card for late challenge on Samaras, was shown a straight red card for elbowing the forward in the face as they challenged for a high ball.

Mackay-Steven had made a bright start, but the tricky winger was sacrificed as manager Houston brought on big defender Garry Kenneth to compensate for the loss of the right-back.

Celtic took advantage of the extra man to start dominating possession, but their normally lethal strike force of Stokes and Gary Hooper were having a lacklustre afternoon.

United continued to be a threat after the break and Daly sent a drive straight at Forster as the home side put the first effort of the second half on target.

However, Houston's men paid for their own adventure when an attack broke down and Celtic scored on the counter attack, Stokes' low cross being forced home from close range by Ledley from five yards after the Welshman showed more commitment than defender Gavin Gunning.

United lost Gunning to injury, with striker Milos Lacny on in his place and Daly going into central defence, and the striker squandered a great chance to level the scores after 69 minutes.

The one-time Celtic trialist latched on to Russell's head flick but screwed his drive from the edge of the box past the post.

Celtic immediately marched up the other end to score and Samaras rose to power home Charlie Mulgrew's curling free-kick high into the net from eight yards.

United could have hauled themselves back into the game when Russell found himself in the clear just inside the box but sent his powerful drive just over the crossbar.

Stokes contributed to the miss of the season archives when he cracked the ball off the crossbar from only 12 yards after a swift run from James Forrest presented the striker with an open goal.

Samaras swept an effort wide from wide range before Stokes pounced on a fine Ledley through ball to shoot low into the far corner.

There was still time for Sean Dillon to haul down Samaras and, although replays showed it was probably outside the box, Brown sent the spot kick low into the corner.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Dundee Utd

  • 01 Pernis
  • 02 Dillon
  • 03 Dixon
  • 18 Gunning (Lacny - 59' )
  • 26 Neilson Dismissed after an earlier booking
  • 06 Flood (Armstrong - 78' )
  • 08 Robertson
  • 11 Rankin
  • 17 Mackay-Steven (Kenneth - 30' )
  • 09 Daly
  • 15 Russell

Substitutes

  • 13 Banks
  • 05 Kenneth
  • 07 Ryan
  • 16 Armstrong
  • 20 Lacny

Celtic

  • 01 Forster (Zaluska - 90' )
  • 21 Mulgrew
  • 25 Rogne
  • 02 Matthews
  • 08 Brown
  • 16 Ledley
  • 67 Wanyama
  • 09 Samaras
  • 10 Stokes (Commons - 88' )
  • 49 Forrest
  • 88 Hooper (McCourt - 81' )

Substitutes

  • 24 Zaluska
  • 06 Wilson
  • 11 Cha Du-Ri
  • 20 McCourt
  • 15 Commons
Ref: Brines
Att: 12,270

Match Stats

Shots

7 10

On target

2 5

Corners

4 7

Fouls

12 9

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +2:13 Full time

Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.

89:57

The assist for the goal came from Georgios Samaras.

89:57 Goal scored

Goal! - Scott Brown - Dundee U 0 - 4 Celtic Penalty scored by Scott Brown. Dundee Utd 0-4 Celtic.

88:25 Substitution

Substitution Lukasz Zaluska replaces Fraser Forster.

88:25

Sean Dillon challenges Georgios Samaras unfairly and gives away a Penalty.

87:18 Substitution

Substitution Anthony Stokes leaves the field to be replaced by Kris Commons.

85:34

Joe Ledley provided the assist for the goal.

85:34 Goal scored

Goal! - Anthony Stokes - Dundee U 0 - 3 Celtic Anthony Stokes finds the back of the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Dundee Utd 0-3 Celtic.

84:42

Effort on goal by James Forrest from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.

83:34

Effort from inside the area by Georgios Samaras misses to the left of the goal.

81:41

The assistant referee signals for offside against Johnny Russell. Fraser Forster takes the indirect free kick.

81:00 Substitution

Substitution Patrick McCourt replaces Gary Hooper.

78:36

Anthony Stokes takes a shot.

77:35 Substitution

Substitution Stuart Armstrong is brought on as a substitute for Willo Flood.

77:35

Free kick awarded for a foul by Georgios Samaras on Willo Flood. Direct free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.

76:06

Anthony Stokes has an effort at goal from 20 yards. Save made by Dusan Pernis.

74:02

Effort from deep inside the area by Gary Hooper clears the bar.

72:59

Effort on goal by Johnny Russell from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.

72:27

Garry Kenneth concedes a free kick for a foul on James Forrest. Fraser Forster takes the direct free kick.

70:46

Assist by Charlie Mulgrew.

70:46 Goal scored

Goal! - Georgios Samaras - Dundee U 0 - 2 Celtic Georgios Samaras scores a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Dundee Utd 0-2 Celtic.

70:15

Free kick awarded for a foul by Willo Flood on Anthony Stokes. The ball is crossed by Charlie Mulgrew,

69:35

Georgios Samaras handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Willo Flood restarts play with the free kick.

68:59

Effort from deep inside the area by Milos Lacny misses to the right of the target.

67:39

Corner from the right by-line taken by Charlie Mulgrew, Scott Brown challenges Dusan Pernis unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.

65:51

Anthony Stokes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Scott Robertson. Willo Flood takes the free kick.

65:09

John Rankin takes a shot from 35 yards and went wide right of the target.

64:20

Sean Dillon fouled by Anthony Stokes, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.

63:09

Anthony Stokes takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.

62:57

Free kick awarded for a foul by Scott Robertson on Joe Ledley. Charlie Mulgrew restarts play with the free kick.

61:55

Unfair challenge on John Rankin by James Forrest results in a free kick. John Rankin takes the direct free kick.

60:18

Milos Lacny is caught offside. Fraser Forster takes the free kick.

58:20

James Forrest fouled by Willo Flood, the ref awards a free kick. Charlie Mulgrew crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from left wing.

58:20 Substitution

Substitution Gavin Gunning goes off and Milos Lacny comes on.

54:53

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Anthony Stokes by Sean Dillon. Free kick crossed left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew from left wing, clearance made by Garry Kenneth.

53:49

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew from the right by-line, Gavin Gunning makes a clearance.

52:19

Anthony Stokes provided the assist for the goal.

52:19 Goal scored

Goal! - Joe Ledley - Dundee U 0 - 1 Celtic Joe Ledley finds the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Dundee Utd 0-1 Celtic.

51:06

Scott Robertson concedes a free kick for a foul on James Forrest. Charlie Mulgrew delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, clearance by Jon Daly.

50:35

Jon Daly takes a shot. Save by Fraser Forster.

47:30

Corner taken right-footed by Willo Flood from the left by-line, clearance by Victor Wanyama.

46:21

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew, John Rankin makes a clearance.

45:29

Georgios Samaras fouled by John Rankin, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Charlie Mulgrew.

45:01

The second half has started.

45:00 +1:23 Half time

Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.

45:00 +0:14

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew, Anthony Stokes challenges John Rankin unfairly and gives away a free kick. Dusan Pernis takes the direct free kick.

41:57

Foul by Gary Hooper on Gavin Gunning, free kick awarded. Dusan Pernis restarts play with the free kick.

38:47

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Willo Flood, free kick awarded for a foul by Gavin Gunning on Georgios Samaras. Fraser Forster takes the free kick.

34:35

Corner taken left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew, Effort on goal by James Forrest from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.

33:43

Inswinging corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew from the right by-line, Paul Dixon makes a clearance.

28:00 Substitution

Substitution Garry Kenneth on for Gary Mackay-Steven.

28:00 Dismissal

Dismissal Robbie Neilson shown a red card.

27:48

Unfair challenge on Georgios Samaras by Robbie Neilson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Charlie Mulgrew.

26:57

Free kick awarded for a foul by Scott Brown on Gary Mackay-Steven. Gavin Gunning takes the direct free kick.

24:20

Johnny Russell takes a shot. Fraser Forster makes a save. Jon Daly has an effort at goal from 6 yards.

22:36

John Rankin challenges Scott Brown unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Scott Brown.

20:29

Charlie Mulgrew crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by Dusan Pernis.

20:29 Booking

Booking Robbie Neilson receives a yellow card.

20:10

Free kick awarded for a foul by Robbie Neilson on Georgios Samaras.

15:31

Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Gary Mackay-Steven.

13:03

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Charlie Mulgrew from the left by-line, Gavin Gunning manages to make a clearance.

9:33

Corner taken by Gary Mackay-Steven, Thomas Rogne manages to make a clearance.

8:42

Adam Matthews gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gavin Gunning. Free kick taken by Gavin Gunning.

7:20

Headed effort from inside the penalty area by Jon Daly misses to the right of the target.

1:59

The referee blows for offside. Fraser Forster takes the indirect free kick.

0:00

The match has kicked off.

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