Sport Soccer

Monday 23 September 2019

Brendan Rodgers hails his rising stars as Celtic return to the top of the Scottish Premiership

Brendan Rodgers impressed by his young stars. Photo: PA
Brendan Rodgers impressed by his young stars. Photo: PA
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers saluted the performances of Anthony Ralston and Mikey Johnston as his side stormed back to the top of the Scottish Premiership table.

On a night where skipper Scott Brown made his 500th appearance for the Hoops, 20-year-old defender Anthony Ralston scored in his first outing of the season.

Winger Scott Sinclair added a second from the spot after 31 minutes and Celtic's 19-year-old substitute Johnston, on for the club's only recognised striker Odsonne Edouard, hammered in his first Celtic goal from the edge of the box just before the interval.

The second-half was quickly forgettable but Celtic go a point above Rangers, who drew 0-0 at Hibernian, and two above Kilmarnock, with a game in hand over both teams.

"I'm pleased to see the the young players come into the team and do ever so well," said Rodgers.

"Young Tony getting his goal and playing exceptionally well. And young Mikey Johnston coming into the game and getting his goal.

"He's still maturing. He's still got to get physically stronger to cope. He's a very exciting talent. He's direct. He wants to score goals and he's got super speed.

"He's still very early in his career and he'll need to build himself physically but he's a huge talent and opportunities like tonight to come in and affect the game and score will only help his confidence.

"I'm absolutely delighted for them. We had to work very, very hard in the game but had good control overall.

"Motherwell are a team that are very honest and work very hard. You've got to really move them and test their organisation and I thought our combinations when we got into the second part of the field was very good.

"We took our chances well but we had to earn it tonight and the players definitely did that."

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard was disappointed to surrender top spot in the table, but he was satisfied with his side's performance in a scoreless draw.

"Frustrated in terms of the result, but I'm very pleased with the performance. The performance was there," he stated.

"We controlled and dominated the majority of the game. The only thing that wasn't there tonight was the finish. So, frustrated at that and the result, but the performance was there. I'm really pleased with that.

"Sometimes you'll have these days where you'll do everything but score. It happens in football. We just have to make sure that we don't have too many of them."

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