Thursday 22 March 2018

Brendan Rodgers has high praise for Moussa Dembele following win over Motherwell

Moussa Dembele in action for Celtic
Moussa Dembele in action for Celtic

Ronnie Esplin

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised Moussa Dembele's desire after the Celtic striker won and scored a late penalty in the 2-0 Ladbrokes Premiership victory over Motherwell at Parkhead.

Hoops forward Scott Sinclair steered in the opener after 18 minutes to take his tally to the season to eight with Dembele and Kieran Tierney hitting the woodwork before the break.

Celtic controlled the second half as well but could not add to their lead until Dembele chased what looked like a lost cause inside the Well penalty area, arriving at the ball before keeper Craig Samson who took his feet away.

The 20-year-old Frenchman picked himself up and slammed in the penalty for his 13th goal for Celtic since arriving from Fulham in the summer, sealing a win that kept the league leaders four points ahead of Aberdeen with a game in hand.

Rodgers said: "I said to the players before the game for us to succeed it's not just about us being hungry for the success, it's about being starving.

"You have to really, really push yourself in moments when you think things are gone and you have to fight.

"That (Dembele) was a perfect example of the spirit in the team in that they will chase everything.

"That looked like it was dead and was going to go through to the keeper but he made it something.

"The best strikers do that and create something out of nothing or make something for themselves.

"He made the penalty through his endeavour. Forget about his quality, that's about a mind-set to get there and he tucked it away really well."

Rodgers confirmed he will be involved in the restructuring of the backroom staff at Celtic following the news on Friday that highly-rated head of football development, John Park, will leave the club after nine years.

"Very much so but that's not for here," said Rodgers.

"That's about internally behind the scenes and what we want to do going forward.

"I put on record my thanks to John. I've only been here a short period of time but he's been here for a number of years.

"So on behalf of myself and the club officially I thank him for his work here and will now look to put someone in place within that role that can hopefully make the next steps forward," added the former Liverpool boss, who revealed injured duo Mikael Lustig and Nir Bitton - who missed Saturday's game - should train on Sunday with a view to Wednesday's Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach

Despite the result, Motherwell manager Mark McGhee was "thrilled" by the performance of his young players against the league leaders.

McGhee gave a debut to 18-year-old left-back Jack McMillan while 19-year-old midfielder Ross MacLean made his first start in midfield.

David Ferguson, 20, came on for McMillan before 17-year-old Jake Hastie made his debut when replacing MacLean.

"And we have got others," he said. "I thought Ross MacLean was terrific.

"Ferguson is a great athlete.

"He is quick but still has 10 or 12 pounds to put on before he is going to be the full specimen and Jack McMillan the same.

"So we have a lot of work to do with these boys.

"But it shows you the raw material coming through from Scott Leitch's academy.

"Stephen Craigan is working with them at Under-20 level and we are top of that league, winning games and we are getting them in our team.

"That is the important thing. That is what Motherwell have to do, we have to breed young players that are going to fill the boots of those who are stepping on."

Online Editors

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