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  • Manager hails Celtic's resolve after Rapid Vienna test

    Manager hails Celtic's resolve after Rapid Vienna test

    By: Mark Henderson in Austria on 02 Jul, 2017 13:12

  • BRENDAN Rodgers was delighted to see Celtic’s fighting spirit come to the fore again in Saturday’s friendly stalemate against Rapid Vienna.

    Trailing to Joelinton’s penalty on the stroke of half-time, the Invincibles rallied in the second half and restored parity thanks to Moussa Dembele’s penalty with 17 minutes left on the clock to secure a draw in the Austrian summer sunshine.

    “He’s very cool and calm and believes he is going to score, which is always nice for the penalty taker,” said the manager, speaking exclusively to Celtic TV.

    “It was another game, similar to last pre-season where we went behind and, even though it’s only pre-season and we are still trying to find fitness, we have that mentality that we don’t want to lose. It was a good evening for it, very hot and warm but the players put the work in and ended up drawing the game.”

    Having seen off Blau-Weiss Linz 1-0 three days earlier, it maintained Celtic’s unbeaten run in their pre-season programme of matches.

    Just like the game against Linz, the Hoops boss sent on an entirely new team during the match, this time just beyond the hour-mark to give game-time to as many players as possible.

    And he was pleased at the way his players upped their performance levels in the second half and the impact of the second XI.

    “In terms of fitness wise it was a very good test for us,” said the Irishman. “Obviously, they were a step up for the team we played the other day. Fitness wise it was very good. The first half team were poor from a tactical perspective which was disappointing.

    “We spoke about a number of things tactically at half time and we made a much better start in the first 15 minutes of the second half.  

    “We changed the shape and played 3-4-3 for the final half hour and the boys who came in the final half hour were excellent. They really dominated the ball, pressed the game in numbers much better and there was a better tempo to our game, and we looked a much better threat then going forward.”

    “They finished mid-table in their league and got to the Austrian cup final against Red Bull Salzburg. It was a good test," continued the manager. "They had played a game more than us - this was our second game and their third, but it was a great exercise for us and, like I say, important for us at this stage of pre-season in stepping up the quality of our opponent. Overall, it was a very good game for our fitness.”

    And Brendan Rodgers also hailed the contribution of new signing Jonny Hayes after the winger’s purposeful play won the penalty that was converted with aplomb by Dembele, playing his first match for the six-in-a-row champions since he sustained an injury in April's Scottish Cup semi-final success.

    “He made an incredible run from deep to get onto the ball and then go and create the penalty,” he said  

    "That’s what Jonny can do. He can take you up the pitch. I like players with that very fast profile in the wide areas as he can go from one end of the pitch to the other very quickly.

    "He has that ability to go inside and outside and I thought he was excellent when he came on. He looked a real threat and he worked hard defensively and he's always an outlet with his quality.”

     

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