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  • Manager: Excellent second-half display crucial in fifth-round win

    Manager: Excellent second-half display crucial in fifth-round win

    By: Joe Donnelly on 10 Feb, 2019 18:01

  • CELTIC continued their formidable start to 2019, with an emphatic 5-0 victory over St Johnstone today (Sunday) in the fifth-round of the Scottish Cup. The win marked the Hoops’ seventh win out of seven this year, having scored 21 goals without reply in the process, and Brendan Rodgers praised his side’s second-half performance.

    Speaking after the game, the Celtic manager described Scott Sinclair and Scott Brown’s early goals as cause for celebration, but felt his side’s passing, movement and positioning might have been better during the remainder of the half.

    The second-half, on the other hand, was much better in Brendan Rodgers’ eyes. He said: “I thought the first 20 minutes were very good. We were quick in our passing, created chances and got the first goal. That was important, particularly against St Johnstone who defend so well and will come after you a little bit more. Scott Brown got his trademark goal every five years! It was a great strike, and wonderful technique.

    “I thought after that we got a bit sloppy, with some misplaced passes, and we came out of our shape. Then we gave them an opportunity and Scott Bain had a good save. At half-time we had to re-establish ourselves and control of the game in terms of our positioning.

    "That allows us to press the game better, and sustain more attacks. In the second-half we were excellent. It was a very good performance and we’re through to the next round.”

    Brendan Rodgers also described Sinclair’s prowess in front of goal as instinctive, with the 29-year-old having bagged his second hat-trick of the season against the Saints.The manager likewise highlighted Ollie Burke and Jonny Hayes’ collective contributions up and down the pitch, and he's now looking forward to a different kind of challenge in this Thursday’s last-32 UEFA Europa League encounter with Valencia at Paradise.  

    “That’s what Scotty does, he’s a goalscorer, even if he plays off the side,” said the manager of Sinclair. “The first goal was a great finish, and then he’s probably one of the few players who can keep up with Ollie Burke to get in the box when he squares it. He shows a wonderful appetite to get in there, and his third goal combines a wonderful piece of skill and finish.

    “Guys like Johnny Hayes, too, they aren’t playing as much, but he was great and he defended well. That’s testament to how professional he is. Ollie took a knock to his ankle, but we’re hoping he’ll be okay. He was absolutely fantastic today. Ntcham had a tightness in his hamstring, and felt a bit tight before the game. Jozo was feeling ill, but Kris comes in and does a great job.

    "Today was another good performance. Thursday is a big step for us in terms of quality, but I can’t complain, we’re into February having not conceded a goal. The Valencia game will be about confidence. We bring confidence into the game and we understand the opponent." 

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