A YOUTHFUL side Celtic side powered its way into the Betfred Cup quarter-finals with a 5-0 thrashing of Kilmarnock at Parkhead.

Striker Leigh Griffiths helped himself to a first-half double, the first from a penalty, with 18-year-old defender Anthony Ralston heading in his first goal for the club.

Ralston was one of five teenagers in the starting line-up including Kundai Benyu, Kristoffer Ajer, Calvin Miller and Eboue Kouassi and 20-year-old Kieran Tierney, captain for the night in the absence of suspended Scott Brown, fired in a wonderful fourth from 35 yards in the 65th minute with midfielder Stuart Armstrong completing the rout from close range.

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It was a show of strength-in-depth from the Scottish treble winners who met with almost no resistance as they took an impressive step towards retaining the trophy.

The visitors started tentatively and withstood some early pressure before conceding an entirely avoidable penalty.

Killie wide-man Jordan Jones lost possession to Jonny Hayes and in his haste to recover he clumsily tripped the former Aberdeen winger inside the box.

Griffiths smashed his spot-kick low past Rugby Park keeper Jamie MacDonald who dived the right way but no avail.

When Ralston rose to head in a Griffiths corner from eight yards in the 21st minute it already looked like it was game over.

As Killie reeled, MacDonald saved a point-blank drive from Griffiths corner before the Scotland striker escaped a square-looking Ayrshire back-line to race on to a Tierney pass and slip the ball under the Killie keeper.

In the 34th minute Kilmarnock defender Gordon Greer presented Griffiths with a gift when his attempted pass-back to MacDonald was woefully short but the Hoops striker’s finish on the angle was unusually unconvincing and the Rugby Park keeper blocked.

The home side were dealt an injury blow four minutes later when Kouassi limped off to the side of the pitch and then had to be carried up the tunnel on a stretcher and replaced by Olivier Ntcham who quickly settled in.

The start of the second-half was no easier for Killie.

MacDonald had no chance when Tierney, with time and space, arrowed a long-distance drive high into the top corner,.

Five minutes later Armstrong knocked a Ralston cross over the line from six yards to further demoralise a punch-drunk Killie Elsewhere, Hobs hammered Ayr United 5-0 while Partick Thistle impressed by defeating St Johnstone 3-0 at McDiarmid Park..