BRENDAN RODGERS was delighted with Celtic’s high-speed performance as the champions raced to a 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle.
The manager ordered his players to hit the ground running against opponents who were eager to get into their stride in front of a partisan stadium with under 600 travelling fans in to lend their support to the visitors.
Matt O’Riley’s superb quickfire strike in the fourth minute dynamited the home side’s hopes and Daizen Maeda piled on the misery when he doubled the advantage with a close-range effort after an inviting ball across the face of goal.
Kyogo Furuhashi walloped in a third six minutes after the interval and Tomoki Iwata made certain with his first strike for the Hoops near the end.
HIT…Kyogo Furuhashi lashes No.3 past Hearts keeper Zander Clark.
MISS…Reo Hatate clatters the woodwork with his wayward penalty-kick.
Reo Hatate thumped a penalty-kick against the post just after the turnaround otherwise the Parkhead club would have had FOUR Japanese players on the scoresheet on a historic afternoon.
A beaming Rodgers said: “We had to start the game with the right energy and speed, otherwise, if you let them have a good start in the game, it can be a long afternoon for you, because the atmosphere is very, very good.
“So, I thought the players did that really well. They played some fantastic football, got in front, it should’ve been more with the penalty, but I thought we even responded to that well.
“We missed the penalty that gets the game to 3-0, but we stayed calm.
“They had a little rally for five or 10 minutes and the emotion goes into the stadium when we missed the penalty.
“But we got the third goal, and we should have had more goals. But, overall, after an international break full of travel, the players, they’ve come here and put in a very convincing performance.”
Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “We demanded more from them and there were large percentages of the game I was really happy.
“We were better when it got to 3-1 and 4-1.
“We can control the game better and make shorter passes in order to cope with the fatigue of the players who have travelled in order to have a rest with the ball, otherwise you’re chasing.”