CELTIC Park has witnessed few less gripping cup ties in its time, but the home team did enough to get the job done against Raith Rovers.

The Championship side worked ever so hard and did all they could against a Celtic side who found inspiration hard to come by all evening.

The crowd was small and this competition doesn’t really get going until the semi-finals. That must have been it.

However, as you would expect, the class told in the end for Ronny Deila who avoided an early League Cup exit, which some of his predecessors in recent times could not.

Kris Commons scored a fine goal in the first half, Stefan Johansen got one late on, and with Aberdeen going out Celtic are now odds-on favourites to complete what could be the first leg of a clean sweep. So not a bad night for their manager.

Deila sent out a fairly strong team with every player a first-team squad member, with perhaps the exception of young Kieran Tierney who began at left-back and did well. Nadir Ciftci also got a start but try as he might could not score. He was very trying.

Quite a few Celtic players had off nights, however, there was little for Deila to get too upset about.

Ciftci was obviously keen to impress and showed willingness all match to get into space.

Although his first shot on goal, which went 20 yards past its target, was a case of trying a tad too much. It summed up his night.

Ciftci had another half-chance on 12 minutes. Commons picked out Gary Mackay-Steven with a long ball, he controlled on his chest, cut into the box and his low cross sped through the six-yard box, just a bit too far for the Celtic striker to get onto.

And within 60 seconds we had the game’s best chance – and it fell to Raith.

Grant Anderson’s flicked header gave Craig Wighton the opportunity to run in on goal, chased by a Celtic defence who had forgotten about him, and his well hit shot was kept out by an equally fine Craig Gordon save.

Ciftci had another go on 19 minutes when he embarked on a decent run towards the Raith goal but his shot was always going way over.

Two minutes later and a header from him zipped across goal rather than in it.

Raith’s tactics were obvious and understandable. Whenever Celtic had possession, which was a lot, they got back in numbers and those in green and white struggled to manufacture many clear-cut opportunities.

It got to the stage on 25 minutes when Efe Ambrose tried his luck from 20-odd yards. His luck wasn’t in.

Every time the home side put together some passes, Raith crowded them out to the extent that a lot of passes went backwards. The home support did not like that.

Something needed to be done so Commons stepped forward on 32 minutes to provide the game’s first piece of class.

Callum McGregor passed to Commons on the edge of the box, he got the ball onto his left foot and without thinking sent a shot along the grass into the bottom corner of the net.

Tierney had a decent effort blocked by Kyle Benedictus after a great run from the 18-year-old who was showing up well.

Commons went close to a second three minutes before the break when Ciftci, twisting and turning, got in a low cross and this time the playmaker put his shot over with his less than trusty right boot. Then Ciftci put a free kick over when you expected a bit better from his delivery.

It was pretty similar in the second-half. McGregor had half a chance when he was able to run past two Raith players inside the box, he was set up following a Saidy Janko run and Commons touch, but his final effort was weak, even if the intention was good.

Celtic did little with the ball and that could only encourage Raith and on 57 minutes they should have scored. From a long throw-in by Jason Thomson, Stewart flicked on a header and Ross Matthews, on the volley, put the ball over from close range when he should have hit the target at least.

Raith had another pop through James Craigen on 63 minutes, which was more than Celtic could manage.

There was far too much humming and hawing when a second goal would have killed the tie and Deila went in search of it when Tom Rogic and James Forrest replaced Commons and McGregor.

The substitutes brought a bit more zip to proceedings, something Tierney had managed all evening, the teenage left-back put in a number of good crosses and on 66 minutes picked out Ciftci whose header wasn’t accurate.

Celtic should have scored two minutes later.

This time Ciftci did well, turning and running at Raith in midfield, he was fouled by Grant Anderson, referee John McKendrick played on, Brown got on the ball, shoved it right for Mackay-Steven who delayed his shot, which meant his eventual effort was deflected wide.

Raith keeper Kevin Cuthbert kept his side in it on 73 minutes. Ciftci picked up the ball after a slip by Lewis Toshney. The ball moved from him to Rogic to Mackay-Steven whose shot was well saved.

Forrest and Rogic saw shots go just past, but at 1-0 Raith always had a chance and one fell to Jon Daly of all people when Craigen found him with a pass inside the box and with a lot of the goal to aim at, the former Rangers man put his shot wide.

The upset didn't happen. With four minutes left, Johansen ran clear from the halfway line and produced a fine finish to settle it.