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  • Manager hails stylish Celts after resounding European win

    Manager hails stylish Celts after resounding European win

    By: Mark Henderson on 19 Jul, 2017 23:17

  • BRENDAN Rodgers was delighted to see Celtic turn on the style so early in the new season after they dispatched Linfield 4-0 tonight to book a meeting with Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

    Leading 2-0 from the first-leg in Belfast, the Hoops ran out 6-0 aggregate victors thanks to a double from Scott Sinclair and goals from Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong.

    In front of a sold-out Celtic Park, it was dominant display from the Scottish treble-winners, who underlined their attacking intent by starting with only three defenders.

    And as the Bhoys carved out chance after chance, only a lack of clinical finishing and some excellent saves from veteran goalkeeper Roy Carroll prevented them from inflicting further punishment.

     “It was a very good win for us,” said the manager, speaking after the game. “Some of our football at this stage of the season was very good. The fitness of players will have gained an extra notch forward in terms of this moment in pre-season as well.

    “Our positioning in the first half was very good in order to get through Linfield. We had good width in the game and numbers inside their shape.

    “Our only disappointment was we didn’t score more in the first half.  We were a bit wasteful, but sometimes that happens at this time of the season when the players don’t quite have their eye in.

    “In the second half, we talked about having a little bit more movement without the ball, so still playing in our positions but being a bit more dynamic in our movement. We tweaked a couple of players in positional play and, really, our intensity wore them down in the end.

    “I was very pleased. We tried a different shape and structure tonight and it worked very well for us.”

    New signing Olivier Ntcham started the qualifier to make his competitive bow for Celtic following his move from Manchester City last week, having featured in Saturday’s friendly against Lyon.

    And he was prominent throughout his hour of involvement, playing a crucial role in Sinclair’s opening goal, before being replaced by Armstrong.

    Fellow recent recruit Kundai Benyu, who joined the club from Ipswich Town, also made his competitive debut as a second-half substitute.

    And the Hoops boss was pleased with their contributions, along with that of the existing cohort of players, who look to have picked up from where they left off last season.

    “Olivier came in and we wanted to get him game-time as he has only been in a week-and-a-half,” said the Irishman. “He got his first hour at the weekend and just over an hour tonight. You can see his qualities, and once he gets up to speed and gets those relationships with the players he plays with, he’s going to be a great asset for us with his power and his passing ability.

    “Young Beni is full of enthusiasm. He is bright and deliberate in his play and he wants to get forward and get in the box. It was just to give him a feel for playing at Celtic Park.

    “As a team, it was nice for Stuart Armstrong to come in and finish well. Scotty (Sinclair) was back scoring again. He wasn’t happy last week his goal wasn’t maybe given to him so he wanted to get his goals tonight, and Tom Rogic’s was a fantastic finish. If it wasn’t for Roy Carroll, then the scoreline over the two legs would have been much worse.”

    The manager was also keen to pay tribute to the Celtic support, who packed out Paradise in the first competitive match of the new campaign.

    “A big thank you to the supporters,” he added. “To have a full house here for a Champions League qualification game, which might mean nothing for some, shows how much the supporters want to watch this team – a full house and a great night.”

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