Tuesday 25 April 2017

Rodgers targets 'another century' as Hoops hit trophy landmark in style

Celtic 3 Aberdeen 0

Celtic’s players celebrate after winning the Scottish League Cup. Photo: PA
Celtic’s players celebrate after winning the Scottish League Cup. Photo: PA

Roddy Forsyth

Talk of Celtic's treble chance has begun. And, on this evidence, the delivery of all the domestic honours to the east end of Glasgow for the first time since Martin O'Neill supervised the feat 15 years ago, is odds-on.

For the moment the Hoops faithful can savour the acquisition of the club's 100th piece of major silverware in the form of the Scottish League Cup.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers lifts the trophy. Photo: Getty
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers lifts the trophy. Photo: Getty

Ominously for the rest of Scottish football, the first showpiece occasion was all but a non-contest, despite featuring the one side who have mounted anything resembling a challenge to Celtic in recent times.

It was, according to Dons boss Derek McInnes " "sobering experience".

Even before Celtic took the lead against Aberdeen from Tom Rogic's accomplished strike - does he do any other kind? - they looked virtually impregnable.

Another first-half goal, from James Forrest, confirmed the victory, and Moussa Dembélé's penalty midway through the second half permitted Celtic to amble through to the end.

James Forrest of Celtic is fouled in the penalty box by Anthony O'Conner of Aberdeen, resulting in a penalty kick and a third Celtic goal. Photo: Getty
James Forrest of Celtic is fouled in the penalty box by Anthony O'Conner of Aberdeen, resulting in a penalty kick and a third Celtic goal. Photo: Getty

Aberdeen could not plead any element of surprise about the threat posed by Rogic, who had scored against them in each of the two prior meetings this season. Nor could they have been unaware of Celtic's habit of starting at high tempo, yet they could not produce an adequate response to either.

Had the Dons been able to match the pre-match efforts of their fans, matters would have been different.

It is rare to see a Celtic crowd outdone during the preliminaries, but the large travelling contingent produced a splendid display of fervour and, when the teams took the field and the Parkhead players went into a prolonged huddle, the Aberdeen players stared impassively, arms linked inside the centre circle.

This exhibition of resolve was not a foretaste of the action.

Moussa Dembele of Celtic scores Celtic's 3rd goal from the penalty spot. Photo: Getty
Moussa Dembele of Celtic scores Celtic's 3rd goal from the penalty spot. Photo: Getty

After 10 minutes, Aberdeen had accrued the grand total of 13pc possession and looked increasingly baffled by their inability to deprive Celtic of the ball or do anything meaningful when they managed to.

The impression that Aberdeen were off the pace at exactly the wrong time was reinforced when the usually alert Adam Rooney failed to read an astute threaded pass from James Maddison which would have put him clear behind the Hoops backline.

Celtic promptly recycled the ball and Emilio Izaguirre scampered down the left flank to deliver a cross which Dembélé met with a header which Joe Lewis blocked.

That was one of Celtic's three efforts on target in the first half. Unhappily for Aberdeen, they could not keep the other two from finding the mark.

Celtic went ahead on 15 minutes. Jozo Simunovic surged upfield to lay the ball off to Rogic, who had drifted into space and, with neither Graeme Shinnie nor Anthony O'Connor close enough to inconvenience him, the Australian stepped infield and whipped his left-foot drive into the net.

Celtic's James Forrest scores his sides second goal. Photo: PA
Celtic's James Forrest scores his sides second goal. Photo: PA

Aberdeen were even more culpable for Celtic's second, when they let Forrest push from the centre circle into the area for a crisp low finish.

This complicity in their own destruction extended to O'Connor's lunge at Forrest to concede the penalty that gave Dembélé his 17th goal of the season.

Celtic duly paraded the first trophy won under the guidance of Rodgers, who said: "It's a huge privilege for me to manage this club because I am one of them. I'm with my own people and proud of a very good performance."

And Rodgers targeted another 100 trophies.

"It is a winning club," he said. "That is what the great history of this club is based upon. And now we have to look to the next one and start the next century of trophies."

Rodgers was adamant again that the trophy win meant nothing to him on a personal basis, saying: "You have got to stop talking about personal. My job is to manage and bring success to Celtic. What does it do for me? As I have said before, absolutely nothing for me.

"I am proud to be the manager of Celtic and bring a trophy to the people I love, the club I support and the players but that's it. We have a huge job to do." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport