BRENDAN RODGERS saluted ever-improving Matt O’Riley after yet another Man-of-the-Match performance in the 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle.

The inexhaustible and elegant midfielder has hardly suffered a blip in his form since the opening-day 4-2 victory over Ross County at Parkhead in early August.

O’Riley has now netted six goals in this campaign – two more than the whole of last term – and his strikes include the stoppage-time points-clincher against Motherwell at Fir Park at the end of last month.

The 22-year-old Danish international playmaker got the show on the road in Edinburgh with a fourth-minute delivery that combined timing and execution to silence a volatile home crowd with under 600 visiting fans allowed into the ground.

THUMB’S UP…Brendan Rodgers acknowledges the travelling Celtic support after the 4-1 win at Tynecastle.

Three points were added to the champions’ total when Daizen Maeda, Kyogo Furushasi and substitute Tomkoki Iwata, with his first for the club, had the opponents on their knees long before the final whistle.

O’Riley was the stand-out Celt again and boss Rodgers said: “He is developing and that is what you want to see. It is a huge testament to him as he just wants to improve.

“We want to keep his game moving through the levels. His attitude to learning is brilliant as he is so honest to the game. He trains well and prepares well.

“He does all the right things and gives himself every chance.”

Viewing O’Riley’s sublime effort for the breakthrough strike, Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It was a brilliant finish.

“That is not an easy technique coming across your body.

“He makes a good run in the first place and is hungry to get in there. Then it is a great finish.”

BREAKTHROUGH JOY…Tomoki Iwata celebrates after scoring his first goal for Celtic.

Rodgers also praised second-half substitutes Iwata and veteran James Forrest as he added: “It was a great finish from him and I am pleased for him.

“He works so hard. Some of these guys are very important for us. They maybe not start as many games as they would like, but their contribution is really important. He came on and got his first goal for the club which is terrific.

“I also thought James was brilliant when he came into the game. We don’t have a winger as bright as him in our squad yet and I told the young guys afterwards to learn from him.

“The players in the periphery are so important for us.”


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