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  • Manager's delight as he makes it a Magnificent Seven for Celtic

    Manager's delight as he makes it a Magnificent Seven for Celtic

    By: Paul Cuddihy on 02 Dec, 2018 18:31

  • BRENDAN Rodgers made it a magnificent seven trophies in a row as his Celtic side lifted the League Cup with a 1-0 victory over Aberdeen at Hampden today (Sunday).

    The only goal of the game came deep into first-half added time through the impressive Ryan Christie, though Celtic dominated for the majority of the match, and only some good saves from Joe Lewis and some indecisiveness in the final third kept the score down.

    The Hoops boss was understandably delighted after yet another silverware success at the National Stadium, and paid tribute to his players, who produced a characteristically big performance just days after a taxing Europa League tie against Rosenborg in Norway.

    “It was a very satisfying win for us today,” the Celtic manager said. “The players showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight after the run of games that we’ve had, especially Thursday night, and Aberdeen are a very tough team to come in and play because they’re very strong and physical.

    “I take great pride in the fact we’ve now won seven trophies in a row, and it feels great, but my happiness is more for the players and the supporters. The players deserve a huge amount of credit because they’ve been amazing since I’ve come in.”

    Since Ryan Christie’s second-half starring role in the League Cup semi-final win against Hearts at Murrayfield, he’s been a pivotal figure in the Celtic midfield, and he broke the deadlock just before half-time, latching on to a Dedryck Boyata ball over the top and running through the heart of the Aberdeen defence. While Lewis saved the first effort, Christie was first to react, firing home with his left foot.  

    “To show the quality for our goal, which was probably our biggest moment of the first-half, was very pleasing,” said Brendan Rodgers. “We had a sequence of passes and worked our way through their man-marking and ended up with a great goal.

    “My only disappointment in the second-half was that we could have been more clinical. In key moments, especially when we’re having to defend a bit deeper, we broke away fantastic.

    “We broke with pace, and the support we had up there, we never made the last past, which then makes the game a lot tighter towards the end than it should have been. But that’s the only criticism. It’s an incredible mentality by the players and the focus in their game was very good.”

    Christie’s goal came during six added minutes in the first-half following a clash of heads between Dedryck Boyata and Gary Mackay-Steven in the Celtic penalty area. While the Belgian defender required stitches to a head wound, Mackay-Steven needed further onfield treatment before being stretchered off and taken to hospital. Thankfully, the prognosis for the Aberdeen winger looks positive. Boyata’s own participation in the final ended in the second-half when he was forced off with a separate injury.

    “It looks like Dedryck’s struggling with his hamstring,” the Celtic manager said. “And we also hope that Gary Mackay-Steven is okay. I just saw a replay of the incident after the game and it looked a really bad knock, so hopefully Gary’s okay.”

    The Celtic players will now savour another trophy success, though the focus will quickly turn to a Premiership fixture on Wednesday night against Motherwell at Fir Park. For today, though, their manager is once again delighted with their efforts at the National Stadium.

    “This was very satisfying, especially after the start to the season we had,” he said, “but in the last couple of months we’ve pulled our idea back again in terms of our football and the quality of our game.

    “These players deserve it, and everything they’ve done since I’ve come in, they’ve had to earn it – nothing’s been presented to them – and they earned it today.”

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