Wednesday 21 November 2018

'Joy' for Rodgers as Forrest bears fruit for the Hoops

James Forrest scores his Celtic's fifth goal of the game. Photo: PA
James Forrest scores his Celtic's fifth goal of the game. Photo: PA

Jamie Holland

Brendan Rodgers saluted goalscorers Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest after Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic record to 67 matches by hammering Motherwell 5-1 on Saturday.

Edouard, the 19-year-old striker on loan from Paris St Germain, captured the headlines with a stunning hat-trick in what was only his third start for the Hoops.

Forrest helped himself to a brace after coming on as part of a double substitution along with Callum McGregor in the 67th minute after Motherwell replacement Elliott Frear had pulled a goal back.

That enabled the 26-year-old Scotland winger, who came through the youth ranks at the Parkhead club, to bring his tally for the season to 10 - the first time he has hit double figures.

"For me, James has been brilliant," said Rodgers.

"It has been a joy to see him grow and develop in my time here. I wanted to change the dynamic of the team by putting him and Callum on. Both can take the ball and keep it and I felt at that stage of the game we needed to do that.

Celtic's Odsonne Edouard. Photo: PA
Celtic's Odsonne Edouard. Photo: PA

"You can see he is a real goal threat - inside of his left foot, outside of his right, two brilliant finishes.

"And, like I say, he is high in confidence and I'm delighted to see it because he is a big talent and still so young, so much ahead of him."

Rodgers also spoke of a "complete" performance by Edouard and of having an option to sign him when his loan deal expires next summer.

The French teenager, who took his Celtic goals tally to four since arriving in Glasgow in the summer, said: "I am absolutely delighted to score my first hat-trick for the club.

"I have been patient, very patient, and very happy to start the game. It is all down to the trust of the manager and to make an impact with the hat-trick, I couldn't be happier."

Rodgers, meanwhile, hit out at Motherwell's hierarchy following the third meeting between the clubs in a week.

Celtic were awarded contentious penalties in both the 2-0 League Cup final win last Sunday and in the 1-1 draw in the league against Stephen Robinson's men at Fir Park last Wednesday.

The Lanarkshire club subsequently issued a statement in which they revealed they had sought answers from the Scottish Football Association about the penalty decisions, and stated they would probe ''numerous'' acts of vandalism in the away stand and also allegations of missile throwing from the Motherwell fans.

That prompted Rodgers to say: "There was a debate around the honesty and professionalism of the Celtic players and also a question asked of the supporters.

"It is not a debate. These are players who have got to 67 games unbeaten because of their professionalism, their honesty and how they devote their life to their profession.

"Along with their supporters, they have been absolutely brilliant.

"I understand Motherwell were probably hurt after the game last Sunday and that over-spilled to Wednesday, but some of the nonsense that came out from them this week was absolutely incredible.

"After the game on Wednesday, the chief executive of Motherwell, a guy in senior authority, walking around with a laptop trying to demonstrate to media that it wasn't a penalty and then tweets later on talking about retaining class and dignity. That doesn't fit.

"Stephen (Robinson) has done brilliant with the team and the three games were competitive in different ways. But for senior members of the club to do that, I find that very disappointing.

"The penalties were a bit soft, but they were penalties."

Motherwell manager Robinson commented: "Our boys are making their way in the game and they will learn from that and be better for it."

Irish Independent

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