BRENDAN RODGERS would have been forgiven for thinking he had walked into a time warp at Fir Park yesterday.

The first time the Irishman encountered the venue was back on the Sunday afternoon of December 3 2016 when he was in charge of Celtic in his debut campaign.

The confrontation against Mark McGhee’s Motherwell side was deadlocked at 3-3 and in stoppage-time when Tom Rogic decided to take centre stage with a glorious last-gasp winner as he cut in from the left before aiming a low, angled effort into the far corner of Craig Samson’s net.

DECEMBER 3 2016…Brendan Rodgers shakes hands with Well boss Mark McGhee before Celtic’s breathtaking late 4-3 triumph at Fir Park.

SEPTEMBER 30 2023…Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers and opposite number Stuart Kettlewell meet before the Hoops’ thrilling 2-1 win. 

Five months later, the Hoops completed their unforgettable Invincibles season when the Australian magician staged an action replay in the Scottish Cup Final against Aberdeen at Hampden with a late silverware clincher as Rodgers inspired the Parkhead men to a domestic clean sweep in his initial year in charge.

It was a similar story yesterday against Stuart Kettlewell’s team with the match stalemated at 1-1 before Matt O’Riley caressed a sublime finish beyond Liam Kelly for the 97th-minute winner in a memorable 2-1 triumph that could go a long way to defining success at the term’s completion.

Nearest challengers St Mirren drew 1-1 at Kilmarnock while Michael Beale’s side were booed off Ibrox after toppling to a 3-1 loss to Barry Robson’s Aberdeen.

The Paisley club are now four adrift of the champions while the Govan outfit have now drifted seven off the pace.

DECEMBER 3 2016…Brendan Rodgers gives the thumb’s up to the celebrating Celtic support at Fir Park.

SEPTEMBER 30 2023…Brendan Rodgers stages an action replay after the champions’ dramatic triumph. 

For the record, Celtic’s other goalscorers almost seven years ago were presnt skipper Callum McGregor, who came on as a substitute, Patrick Roberts and Stuart Armstrong.

The hosts had led 2-0 at half-time with strikes from Louis Moult while Lionel Ainsworth put hem 3-2 ahead in the 71st minute before the visitors’ spirited response.

James Forrest is the only survivor from the starting line-up that day. The team was: Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Toure, Izaguirre (sub: McGregor 30); Armstrong, Brown; Roberts (sub: Bitton 92), Rogic, Forrest (sub: Gamboa 94); Dembele.


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