Sunday 22 September 2019

Rodgers' focus on 'positives' as Hoops return to summit

Livingston 0 Celtic 0

'Despite having to settle for a draw, Rodgers was pleased to go into the international break top of the table.' Photo: Graham Stuart/PA Wire
'Despite having to settle for a draw, Rodgers was pleased to go into the international break top of the table.' Photo: Graham Stuart/PA Wire

Jamie Holland

Celtic moved to the top of the Scottish Premiership, ahead of Hearts on goal difference, despite having to settle for a goalless draw at resolute Livingston.

Brendan Rodgers' side had scored 23 goals in their previous five domestic games and gave their Europa League chances a boost with a 2-1 win over RB Leipzig at Parkhead last Thursday night.

Livingston's Liam Kelly gathers the ball against Celtic. Photo Graham Stuart/PA Wire
Livingston's Liam Kelly gathers the ball against Celtic. Photo Graham Stuart/PA Wire

However, Livi, who have been so impressive this season after coming up from the Championship, snapped at the Hoops' heels and defended stoutly all afternoon, with goalkeeper Liam Kelly in fine form.

Rodgers claimed afterwards that Livingston striker Dolly Menga should have been sent off. Menga appeared to move his head towards Ryan Christie as they jostled while waiting for a set-piece, but although referee Kevin Clancy interjected, he took no action.

Rodgers, who revealed defender Kristoffer Ajer will need surgery on an eye socket injury sustained in the second-half, said: "He should have been sent off. I thought so in real time.

"I thought he gestured his head towards Ryan and, when I saw it after the game it was actually more aggressive than I thought. He was very, very lucky to stay on the pitch.

Livingston's Keaghan Jacobs (right) vies with Celtic's Tom Rogic. Photo: PA
Livingston's Keaghan Jacobs (right) vies with Celtic's Tom Rogic. Photo: PA

"It wasn't a great action by the player so you can only assume all the officials haven't seen it."

Rodgers expressed sympathy for Ajer, who returned to the Hoops defence at the expense of Filip Benkovic and now faces a lengthy lay-off.

He said: "He's struggling - he's broken his eye socket and he's in a lot of pain at the moment.

"He will need surgery, which is a shame for him. He's in real agony around the area of his cheekbone.

"The medics will look after him and hopefully he can get that repaired as soon as possible.

"There was nothing in it. He's just headed down into their guy's head.

Unfortunate

"There was no fault on the part of the other player. It was just unfortunate."

Despite having to settle for a draw, Rodgers was pleased to go into the international break top of the table.

The Northern Irishman said: "Livingston test you with how they play with throw-ins, deep free-kicks and I thought we stood up to that really well.

"Then the game opens up a little bit and we had chances and their goalkeeper (Liam Kelly) was Man of the Match.

"He made three fantastic saves and I have no complaints. My team has given everything over the last seven weeks.

"A point is a good point here, a positive point for us on the back of all the games we have had."

Irish Independent

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