BEAMING Brendan Rodgers admitted he was delighted after the 4-1 triumph over Aberdeen at Parkhead today propelled champions Celtic to the Premiership pinnacle.
The Hoops boss said: “It’s been a brilliant start for us. To be sitting here in this position, to have played three really tough league games, two away from home in notoriously hard places and to get the points.
“And then, after all the travel and all the emotion this week, to come back in and play Aberdeen, who’ve got a good squad of players, an excellent coach and a week to prepare, to be as convincing as we were for the majority of the game makes us really pleased.
“So, we are in the quarter-final of the League Cup, three wins out of three in the league and qualified for the group stages of the Champions league, so we have to be happy.”
The Hoops boss also took time to explain why he dropped Craig Gordon and gave Dorus de Vries, his recent signing from Nottingham Forest, his first start in goal.
He said: “I just do what I do in every game. I pick what I think is the best team and the goalkeeper’s no different to the outfield players.
“I always say that my teams have to play with control from behind in order for us to play how I want us to play and to have that speed and domination in the game. I thought Dorus came in and did very well.
“He had one loose pass, but, apart from that, he’s able to orchestrate the game from behind. There was a little bit of tiredness today from one or two of the players who didn’t get us into position quick enough, but, overall, I thought he and the team were outstanding.
“And, again, when you think of all the exertions that the players have put in, to have scored another two late goals when Aberdeen were trying to push, shows the mental and physical fitness of the players. I take my hat off to them. I thought they were brilliant.”
Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest scored the first-half goals before Scott Sinclair converted a late penalty-kick to make it 3-1.
The former Aston Villa star took on the spot-kick duties ahead of Moussa Dembele, who had come in the second-half as a substitute for Griffiths. It was, of course, the French ace who netted the stoppage-time winner from the spot against Astana in the Champions League qualifier to put Celtic into the play-offs.
Rodgers explained: “We are very lucky that we have really good penalty-takers. We’ve got Scott, Leigh and Moussa – Moussa probably wanted to take it, but Scotty took it and we scored, so that’s all that matters.
“Scotty was my penalty taker at Swansea, so he knows the score and I trust that he will score, but I also trust Moussa. The most important thing is, it went in the back of the net.
“Moussa’s a great kid and he’s hungry to do well. He hasn’t played maybe as much as he would want to, but he’s shown a wonderful attitude and he knows that it’s a long season and his opportunities will come.
“You can see the impact he made when he came on, he freshened it up along with young Patrick Roberts and he did very well.”