BRENDAN RODGERS welcomed back matchwinner Moussa Dembele as Celtic ended their pre-season tour with a great work-out and a win over Sparta Prague in Austria this evening.

The French Under-21 striker, playing his first game, got the only goal of the encounter when he raced on to a clever through pass from James Forrest and outmuscled a defender as he sprinted into the box.

He left the keeper without a chance as he thundered an angled drive into the net at the near post.

A delighted Rodgers said: “It wasn’t so much Moussa’s goal that pleased me. It was just so important to have him back in the team.

“He took his goal really well, a combination of power, a great first touch and an wonderful finish.

“It was good to see him out there and I also think he linked up really well with Odsonne Edouard.”

The Hoops boss added: “It was a tough day for the players, especially in the last 15 minutes of both our games.

“We won the closed-doors game 2-1 earlier in the day and there was fatigue in the closing stages there, too.

“So, they were both excellent exercises. It’s been a very worthwhile nine days and now we can get a break before we return to training on Thursday to prepare to play Shamrock Rovers before our Champions League qualifier in Armenia next week.

“It’s difficult to get 90 minutes into the legs of the players so early in the season, but that was the plan.

“I think it’s a tribute to them that they embraced it so well. Now we can have a rest before we travel to Dublin on Saturday.

“That’s a game we’re all looking forward to.”

Dembele had the chance to add to his goal, but passed up two opportunities before he was replaced at half-time by Ewan Henderson with Edouard moving up to the central striking role.

On the hour mark, Craig Gordon made a great double save before he was replaced by Conor Hazard.

The young Irishman was relieved when the Czechs struck a post seven minutes from the end.

Earlier today, Mikey Johnston and Scott Sinclair were on target as the Hoops beat RW Linz 2-1.

TEAM: Gordon (sub: Hazard 64); J Hendry, Ajer, Simunovic, Tierney; Forrest, Brown, Ntcham (sub: R Hendry 64), McGregor; Dembele (sub: Henderson 46), Edouard (sub: McInroy 78).

* Rodgers was talking to Celtic TV.


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