Rodgers pleased with Celtic’s ti­tle fo­cus

New Straits Times - - Sport -

GLAS­GOW: Celtic man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers praised his play­ers for show­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion needed to dig out a 2-1 vic­tory against Dundee that puts them on the verge of the Scot­tish Pre­mier­ship ti­tle.

A first half strike from Jozo Simunovic and a sec­ond half header from Stu­art Arm­strong seemed to have the Hoops cruis­ing to vic­tory at Dens Park.

How­ever, a su­perb strike from sub­sti­tute Faissal El Bakhtaoui gave Dundee hope and made for an ex­cit­ing fin­ish on Sun­day.

The Glas­gow giants were put on the back foot as Dundee pressed for an equaliser and were forced to take off winger Scott Sin­clair and bring on cen­tre-half Erik Svi­atchenko to help de­fend their lead.

Celtic with­stood the late pres­sure and Rodgers was happy to see his play­ers show a dif­fer­ent side to their game as they ex­tended their un­beaten do­mes­tic run to 36 games.

“I thought we showed a lot of dif­fer­ent el­e­ments to our game to­day,” Rodgers said.

“We played some good foot­ball at times and had good con­trol of the game. We never cre­ated too much in the first half but we still de­served to be in front.

“In the sec­ond half we scored a great goal. It was per­fect in terms of the build-up play and con­struc­tion.

“I just felt that af­ter that we had some more chances to close the game out and we prob­a­bly just lost our po­si­tion­ing a lit­tle bit in or­der to keep the ball.

“Ob­vi­ously at 2-1 we had to show a dif­fer­ent side be­cause it was quite di­rect from Dundee. So, we had to de­fend the

matches un­beaten is the record Celtic have es­tab­lished in Scot­land box, we had to com­pete, we had to win our head­ers and win sec­ond balls, and the play­ers did that.

“It was a very good vic­tory for us. Parts of the game were very good but other parts we had to show fight and a strong men­tal­ity. It was an im­por­tant three points.”

Vic­tory re­stores Celtic’s 25point ad­van­tage over Aberdeen at the top of the ta­ble with nine games re­main­ing and means the Hoops could claim a sixth suc­ces­sive ti­tle with vic­tory away to Hearts on April 2.

Dundee Paul Hart­ley watched his side lose out to Celtic by a sin­gle goal for the third suc­ces­sive game fol­low­ing a 1-0 de­feat at Dens and a 2-1 loss at Celtic Park ear­lier in the sea­son.

Hart­ley praised his play­ers for the spirit they showed in the match.

“We had to with­stand a lot of pres­sure in the first half but we knew they would have a lot of the ball,” the Dundee boss said.

“But I thought out shape was good and our or­gan­i­sa­tion was good.

“We con­ceded a poor goal in the sec­ond half but af­ter that we went and had a go. We changed the shape and Haber had an ex­cel­lent chance, we got an ex­cel­lent goal from El Bakhtaoui and we put Celtic un­der pres­sure.

“They ended up chang­ing to a back three and brought on a cen­tre half so credit to the play­ers in the sec­ond half for how they fought and never gave in.” AFP

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