RODGERS DEMANDS ‘HUNGRY’ HOOPS

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BRENDAN RODGERS has admitted his Celtic players must remain hungry as they pick up pace following a series of exhilarating domestic performances.

The Hoops have scored a welcoming 23 goals in their past five games as they have been propelled into their third successive Betfred League Cup Final – where they will play Aberdeen on December 2 – and within a point of yesterday’s 5-0 victims Hearts at the top of the Premiership with a game in hand.

Rodgers’ men have been unstoppable as they have walloped the Tynecastle side twice in seven days, scoring eight goals without reply. Dundee were decimated by the same scoreline on Wednesday while Hibs have been hit for four and St Johnstone have conceded six in rollicking league displays.

The beaming Irishman witnessed another all-star show at Parkhead yesterday and said: “We were excellent. We scored five goals and if for a better final pass it could have been more. It was an outstanding team performance.

“Our form in the last few weeks has been much more like us. I said six weeks ago that we’d get back to our level. It just takes time.

“It’s about working with the players and keeping their confidence high. That was really pleasing on this occasion.

“It’s still early, but it’s a joy to watch us right now playing with that quality.

“People in this league know our capabilities. My focus is keeping that hunger.

“We’ve have the humility to make sure we improve. We’re not giving away too much now, we’re full of running and creativity.”

MOVING TARGET…Lewis Morgan was on the receiving end of a severe challenge. Pic: Geo.

Rodgers’ only criticism was about some of the tough tackling from the well-beaten visitors, particularly a crunching tackle from their skipper Peter Haring on Lewis Morgan near the end.

The Austrian was already on a booking when he hammered into the substitute and the Hoops gaffer observed: “Haring’s tackle on Morgan had a wee bit more force than there needed to be.

“I can understand a tactical foul when Lewis is breaking away, but I don’t think you need that force.

“We coped well with Hearts’ physicality. We stood up to it and our football was exceptional.”

It was certainly quite a contrast to the Celtic performance against the same opponents in Edinburgh at the start of the league season when they lost 1-0.

On that occasion, the robust tactics employed by the home side knocked the champions out of their stride, but they have shown in the past two confrontations against Craig Levein’s outfit they learned a hard lesson.

And how Hearts have suffered in successive weekends that separated the men from the boys.

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