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RODGERS HAILS ‘OUTSTANDING’ CELTIC

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BRENDAN RODGERS labelled his players “outstanding” after Celtic’s 4-1 Premiership opening triumph over Hearts at Parkhead this afternoon.

Leigh Griffiths snapped up a double while Scotty Sinclair and Callum McGregor claimed the others as the rampant Hoops walloped the Tynecastle outfit as they kicked off their quest for seven titles in a row.

Rodgers’s side brought the curtain down on the league season last time around with a 2-0 win over the Edinburgh men.

And they have started this one where they left off with another emphatic victory.

Rodgers said: “It was a very good performance on the back of our European game in the week.

“With the flag going up, it meant the competition was up and running from today, so we wanted to make a good performance and put a statement down in our very first game.

“I thought the payers were outstanding in all elements of our game. We had to be patient as Hearts set up very well at the beginning of the game – 4-5-1 – and they kept it tight and compact, so we had work the ball and try and find the spaces.

“It was disappointing that we were only 1-0 up at half-time, but in the second-half, they started to tire a little bit and we got in between them a bit more.

“We scored four but we could have had a few more.”

Midfielder Nir Bitton turned in another excellent display in central defence and Rodgers said: “You can see he’s very comfortable in it.

“Firstly, he can defend – we haven’t just thrown him in there. He has played a lot there in training and in exercises.

“He’s good in the air, he’s a good size, he reads the game well as a defender and he’s brave. He also has the courage to play, get on the ball and start attacks from behind.

“I have comfort in putting him in there. He was outstanding when he came on against Rosenborg during the week and, today, if you didn’t know if he had played midfield for a lot of his career, you would say he looked like a top centre-half.”

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