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  • Manager's delight as champions lay down a marker on Flag Day

    Manager's delight as champions lay down a marker on Flag Day

    By: Mark Henderson on 05 Aug, 2017 16:05

  • BRENDAN Rodgers hailed his players as 'outstanding' after Celtic started their search for seven-in-a-row with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Hearts today in Paradise.

    On the day where captain Scott Brown unfurled the league flag to mark last season’s championship success, the Scottish treble-winners continued where they left off in the previous league campaign with a stylish showing in front of a huge home crowd.

    Leigh Griffiths scored the first Scottish Premiership goal of the season with cool finish to put the dominant hosts in command at the interval.

    In the second half, the Bhoys left their opponents trailing in their wake as Scott Sinclair quickly doubled the lead, before Griffiths grabbed his second of the game.

    Callum McGregor sealed the spoils  with a rasping half-volley, rendering Isma Goncalves’ late consolation as meaningless as the Hoops banked their first three points of the new league campaign.

    Speaking after the game, the manager said: “It was a very good performance on the back of our European game in the week. With the flag going up today meant the competition was up and running from today so we wanted to make a good performance and put a statement down in our very first game.

    “I thought the players were outstanding in all elements of our game. We had to be patient as Hearts set up very well at the beginning of the game – 4-5-1 – and they kept it tight and compact, so we had work the ball and try and find the spaces.

    “It was disappointing that we were only 1-0 up at half-time but in the second half, they started to tire a little bit and we got in between them a bit more. We scored four but we could have had a few more.”

    Nir Bitton turned in another assured performance in central defence, having impressed there as a first-half substitute in Wednesday's 1-0 victory away to Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League qualifier.

    “You can see he’s very comfortable in it," said the Hoops boss. "Firstly, he can defend - we haven’t just thrown him in there. He has played a lot there in training and in exercises.

    "He’s good in the air, he’s a good size, he reads the game well as a defender and he’s brave. He also has the courage to play, get on the ball and start attacks from behind. I have comfort in putting him in there.

    "He was outstanding when he came on during the week and, today, if you didn't know if he had played midfield for a lot of his career, you would say he looked like a top centre-half.”

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