Brendan Rodgers was a happy man after watching his Celtic team beat Rangers 1-0 at Ibrox today, fully satisfied with the efforts of his players.
A Kyogo Furuhashi stunner past Jack Butland was the difference between the two sides in a combative 90 minutes that the team can feel proud of coming through unscathed.
Under-strength due to injuries and with the pressure building, Rodgers and the Celtic fans needed to see a big performance from this squad. They delivered.
After the match, the Bhoys boss told BBC Sportsound [14:21]: “It’s a massive result for the squad. When you consider virtually half the team were not available. I said before the game to them, ‘I need my men today. With 50-odd thousand baying for blood, you need to come and play like a man even though you’re really young players.’ They did that.
“The first half, we played with great composure and got through the pitch really well. We had chances to score before we did, probably just needed to clean up in the final third of the pitch. We forced one or two passes when we didn’t need to. We did the dirty work, we had to win the second balls and Matt did that, it’s a great finish by Kyogo.
“Second half we didn’t quite connect with our passes but we were always a threat. We knew we would have to defend, we knew they would have to come after us. We had three big opportunities, when you don’t do that it keeps it tight. But the players stood up magnificently, Liam Scales was outstanding today.”
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The Celtic team left the park with Ibrox ringing out with a chorus of boos aimed at the home team, which must have been incredibly satisfying for all the Bhoys players and staff. Not many people predicted that outcome at the start of today.
The champions have shown their mettle again, in the toughest of circumstances. Far from it being Rodgers who has big questions to answer, the entire dynamic has again changed in Glasgow and the pressure is piling on the Govan outfit.
That’s just how we like it. With new signings still to come into the team and players returning from injury, you’d expect Celtic to only get better from this point onwards. Improvement is definitely needed, but today they showed strength and determination to win. That’s what you need in a league title battle.