BRENDAN RODGERS went 68 games without defeat against Scottish opposition during his first stint as Celtic manager.
Now, after the 3-1 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie this afternoon, it’s a case of two down and 66 to go if he hopes to equal that phenomenal record.
Goals from Liel Abada, Kyogo Furuhashi and Matt O’Riley got the job done in a raw, rombustious confrontation against Barry Robson’s fired-up Dons to build on the 4-2 victory over Ross County at Parkhead last weekend.
There were problems for the champions in the north east with Cameron Carter-Vickers failing to turn out for the second-half and Reo Hatate, a half-time replacement for David Turnbull, limping off in the 70th minute with young Norwegian Odin Thiago Holm being introduced in his place.
HAPPY AWAY DAZE…Brendan Rodgers satisfied with another three points. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
Overall, though, Rodgers was satisfied with the three points and admitted: “In all my times coming to Aberdeen, I can only remember one game that we were comfortable in, but other than that you always have to work really hard for the result.
“The pitch was very long which made our passing slow and their style is very committed. They get it forward very quickly and you have to defend lots of first balls and second balls.
“The players coped with it and it’s great for us to win early on, to come away to one of our rivals and score three goals. When it got to 1-1 we had a bit of adversity and we had to handle that and we did that really well.
“It’s a really good win for us. Performance-wise we will get better, but it’s about getting the results as we build the performance.”
Israeli winger Abada claimed the opener in the 11th minute which was originally ruled out for offside by referee Kevin Clancy after a flag from his asistant. However, images showed the Celt was onside after VAR intervened and the strike was given.
Some sloppy play allowed the home side to equalise through Bojan Miovskiin the 25th minute, but Kyogo restored the visitors’ advantage when he bounced on an error from Nicky Devlin before rifling a right-foot shot beyond the grasp of keeper Kelle Roos.
SIGN OF A CHAMPION…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his goal against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “What we’ve tried to do is add variety to Kyogo’s game and you can see in the last game he’s very good in going behind.
“We’ve tried to include him more in the build-up phase which opens spaces, especially when teams are man-marking.
“His finish was sublime. He’s clever and cute in the game, he’s an elite player in terms of his movements and his runs and he played the offside really well and that’s what you tell your strikers, not to rush back.
“It was a good time for us to score as well, especially after they had equalised.”
The impressive O’Riley stroked in the third goal in the 84th minute after great footwork from substitute Yang Hyun-jun on the left.
Reflecting on the build-up to the vital strike, Rodgers added: “Odin does really well to keep the ball in and recycles it.
“Yang does great, goes on to that side and beats his man. It’s just about arriving into the area and that was the goal that killed the game.
“It’s always difficult at 2-1, a lot of pressure on to your backline with direct balls, and that kills the game and allows us to close the game out.”
Carter-Vickers, who had knee surgery before the end of last season, will be assessed in the next couple of days after feeling his hamstring.
Hatate, too, will be examined after suffering a calf injury.