16 September 2023

Brendan Rodgers praises Celtic support for sticking with side

16 September 2023

Brendan Rodgers praised the Celtic Park support for their patience and togetherness after a flurry of second-half goals saw off Dundee in a 3-0 victory for the cinch Premiership leaders.

Dundee had the best chance of the first half when Joe Hart saved well from Luke McCowan from point-blank range and Celtic struggled to get in behind, although Daizen Maeda had a goal ruled out for offside and Matt O’Riley hit a post with a deflected effort.

Rodgers received stick from a small section of the crowd after Celtic were held to a goalless draw by St Johnstone in their previous home match, but there was no sign of tension and the breakthrough came in the 51st minute.

David Turnbull took advantage of Ryan Howley’s over-eagerness to win the ball and got in his way just on the edge of the box, with a penalty ultimately given after VAR intervened following Grant Irvine’s free-kick award.

Turnbull converted and Celtic were three up midway through the half after Kyogo Furuhashi headed home and then set up O’Riley to net.

Rodgers said: “Every game is difficult. It’s a great shout out to the crowd, they did really well for us. I think they could see what we were trying to do in the first half and we were unlucky not to be in front.

“At 0-0 at half-time it could have been a little bit edgy. But they stayed with the team, second half we upped the tempo, combined really well, got the goals and everyone gets their reward at the end just by staying patient and staying together. It was really pleasing.”

Rodgers handed debuts to Nat Phillips and substitutes Luis Palma and Paulo Bernardo as well as seeing Reo Hatate make his comeback from injury off the bench.

Rodgers said of his new players: “Nice for them to get a feel of playing here in front of the crowd and the crowd gave them a great reception, so that will give them a boost as a Celtic player. They have made their first steps and I was pleased for them.”

Phillips went off for Gustaf Lagerbielke at half-time, but the on-loan Liverpool defender is expected to be fit for Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Feyenoord in Rotterdam.

“Towards the end of the first half he rolled his ankle,” Rodgers said. “He was going to play 60 minutes, but it was just precautionary and he should be fine.”

Rodgers also dismissed any fitness doubts over Furuhashi, who went down the tunnel during the first half to get his shoulder popped back in.

“It was just his shoulder, he just needed to get some work off the pitch and quickly the medical team sorted it out,” Rodgers said. “He came back in and was fine.”

Dundee manager Tony Docherty was frustrated with the manner of the breakthrough.

“I thought we carried out the game plan excellently first half, we had a really good chance to score before we came in,” he said.

“But the message is then to keep it tight and I do think it’s a mistake on our part. I don’t think the player should commit to making that tackle.

“I have watched it a couple of times and it’s hard to make a decision. I don’t think it was a definite penalty.

“I don’t think Ryan needs to challenge for the ball, but David Turnbull has been cute, he has used his body.

“I’m not sure if it’s in the box. The ball definitely isn’t. But to lose the all-important goal in the game to that is very disappointing.”

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