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Graeme Murty acclaims Rangers squad as reign is extended

Graeme Murty’s sojourn as Rangers caretaker manager has invested the term with unexpected substance, as confirmed by the latest extension to his Ibrox duties. The Under-20s coach took charge of the first team for six games after Mark Warburton left in February and had  supervised another half dozen following Pedro Caixinha’s sacking, when he got the call on Thursday night to inform him that he would remain in place until New Year, by which point he will have been in charge for 18 matches. Given that Caixinha lasted all of 26 games, if Rangers should still have Celtic in sight come the start of January, Murty will be entitled to claim the lion’s share of credit, although, typically, he cited the contribution of others when the matter was raised. “Players might have something to do with it,” he said. “I’d contend that if we are in that sort of shape, our squad and our history would dictate that’s where we should be. “I couldn’t have imagined it. I couldn’t have seen myself in this position. I don’t like talking too much about  myself, but the reality is I have a big job ahead of me and so do the players and theirs doesn’t get any easier. “The speculation around the club could lead to them losing focus. “It’s our job to make sure the players don’t do that, that they concentrate and do their jobs on the pitch, and meet the standards they reached against Aberdeen [in the 2-1 win].” The Ibrox directors have been condemned and scorned for the absence of a fall-back plan when they were rebuffed by Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes on Thursday. That they were all but certain that McInnes would accept is not in doubt, although one can only speculate about the source of their confidence. One Ibrox insider told The Sunday Telegraph: “Something spooked him at the last minute”. The Rangers board’s belief that McInnes would be their 18th manager and their complete surprise at his decision was reflected in Dave King’s scarcely disguised sarcasm when he retorted that “moving to a massive club like Rangers is a big step with concomitant risk”. The club’s longer-term playing issues are, however, being addressed as best they can be in the absence of a manager and targets have been drawn up for the January transfer window, according to Murty. “Identifying players is down to the new scouting department that’s been put together expressly for that purpose,” he said. “Those things will be collated by Mark Allen [director of football]. As to who the personnel are I’m not sure yet, but my thoughts have been asked for and given freely. “That’s how we operate. The person who comes in as permanent manager will get the benefit of that, albeit he might want some input also. “Behind the scenes, we’ve been compiling databases for the incoming manager. They list physical load, physical capacity, even their body comps, to make sure the manager coming in has the clearest physical picture of the playing staff available. Derek McInnes rejected the Rangers job Credit: PA “We’ve looked at all the players and I’ve a very good idea of who is capable of doing what at what stage – and where they are in terms of their physical cycle. So, planning an advance schedule from that or a longer schedule from that is easier than it would be if we didn’t have a sensational staff behind the scenes.” On the field, meanwhile, Rangers’ inconsistency denied them the possibility of going top of the Premiership on Saturday night, a position which would have been attainable had they preceded their back-to-back league victories over Aberdeen with the same against Hamilton and Dundee, games which were lost. “We dropped two points against  Kilmarnock as well,” added Murty. “We’ve not managed to sustain our  intensity or our levels and it’s our job collectively as staff and as players to make sure we do that. If we do that it lifts the fans, and makes Ibrox an  intimidating place to come and play. “We need to do that we can push on from what’s been a challenging time.” The challenge, though, continued on Saturday at home to Ross County, who went ahead after 10 minutes when Craig Curran headed past goalkeeper Wes Foderingham. Rangers equalised on the hour through striker Alfredo Morelos before defender Danny Wilson headed home with seven minutes remaining to ensure a third successive victory for the first time in a year. At Rugby Park, doubles from Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy, plus Niall Keown’s own goal, saw Kilmarnock win 5-1 against Partick Thistle, for whom Chris Erskine netted. Motherwell’s tough spell was extended when, after two defeats and a draw against Celtic, they lost to a deflected Kyle Lafferty shot for Hearts at Tynecastle. Stefan Scougall’s strike gave St Johnstone all three points against Hamilton at New Douglas Park.

Graeme Murty acclaims Rangers squad as reign is extended

Graeme Murty’s sojourn as Rangers caretaker manager has invested the term with unexpected substance, as confirmed by the latest extension to his Ibrox duties. The Under-20s coach took charge of the first team for six games after Mark Warburton left in February and had  supervised another half dozen following Pedro Caixinha’s sacking, when he got the call on Thursday night to inform him that he would remain in place until New Year, by which point he will have been in charge for 18 matches. Given that Caixinha lasted all of 26 games, if Rangers should still have Celtic in sight come the start of January, Murty will be entitled to claim the lion’s share of credit, although, typically, he cited the contribution of others when the matter was raised. “Players might have something to do with it,” he said. “I’d contend that if we are in that sort of shape, our squad and our history would dictate that’s where we should be. “I couldn’t have imagined it. I couldn’t have seen myself in this position. I don’t like talking too much about  myself, but the reality is I have a big job ahead of me and so do the players and theirs doesn’t get any easier. “The speculation around the club could lead to them losing focus. “It’s our job to make sure the players don’t do that, that they concentrate and do their jobs on the pitch, and meet the standards they reached against Aberdeen [in the 2-1 win].” The Ibrox directors have been condemned and scorned for the absence of a fall-back plan when they were rebuffed by Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes on Thursday. That they were all but certain that McInnes would accept is not in doubt, although one can only speculate about the source of their confidence. One Ibrox insider told The Sunday Telegraph: “Something spooked him at the last minute”. The Rangers board’s belief that McInnes would be their 18th manager and their complete surprise at his decision was reflected in Dave King’s scarcely disguised sarcasm when he retorted that “moving to a massive club like Rangers is a big step with concomitant risk”. The club’s longer-term playing issues are, however, being addressed as best they can be in the absence of a manager and targets have been drawn up for the January transfer window, according to Murty. “Identifying players is down to the new scouting department that’s been put together expressly for that purpose,” he said. “Those things will be collated by Mark Allen [director of football]. As to who the personnel are I’m not sure yet, but my thoughts have been asked for and given freely. “That’s how we operate. The person who comes in as permanent manager will get the benefit of that, albeit he might want some input also. “Behind the scenes, we’ve been compiling databases for the incoming manager. They list physical load, physical capacity, even their body comps, to make sure the manager coming in has the clearest physical picture of the playing staff available. Derek McInnes rejected the Rangers job Credit: PA “We’ve looked at all the players and I’ve a very good idea of who is capable of doing what at what stage – and where they are in terms of their physical cycle. So, planning an advance schedule from that or a longer schedule from that is easier than it would be if we didn’t have a sensational staff behind the scenes.” On the field, meanwhile, Rangers’ inconsistency denied them the possibility of going top of the Premiership on Saturday night, a position which would have been attainable had they preceded their back-to-back league victories over Aberdeen with the same against Hamilton and Dundee, games which were lost. “We dropped two points against  Kilmarnock as well,” added Murty. “We’ve not managed to sustain our  intensity or our levels and it’s our job collectively as staff and as players to make sure we do that. If we do that it lifts the fans, and makes Ibrox an  intimidating place to come and play. “We need to do that we can push on from what’s been a challenging time.” The challenge, though, continued on Saturday at home to Ross County, who went ahead after 10 minutes when Craig Curran headed past goalkeeper Wes Foderingham. Rangers equalised on the hour through striker Alfredo Morelos before defender Danny Wilson headed home with seven minutes remaining to ensure a third successive victory for the first time in a year. At Rugby Park, doubles from Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy, plus Niall Keown’s own goal, saw Kilmarnock win 5-1 against Partick Thistle, for whom Chris Erskine netted. Motherwell’s tough spell was extended when, after two defeats and a draw against Celtic, they lost to a deflected Kyle Lafferty shot for Hearts at Tynecastle. Stefan Scougall’s strike gave St Johnstone all three points against Hamilton at New Douglas Park.

Celtic 0 Anderlecht 1: Hosts qualify for Europa League despite Jozo Simunovic own goal

The Europa League awaits Celtic in the spring but only after an undistinguished performance on an awkward evening which saw them lose to Anderlecht by a Jozo Simunovic own goal midway through the second half of the final Champions League outing for both sides. The occasion was notable for Scott Brown’s 69th appearance in the tournament, which took him past Kenny Dalglish’s European Cup total at both Celtic and Liverpool, but it was also a frustrating outing which ensured that Brendan Rodgers has yet to win a Champions League group stage game at home in two campaigns at that level. That said, Celtic achieved an aim which would have been acceptable to them at the start of the season and they will no doubt take that as comfort after a gusty and unhospitable evening that will be expunged from the collective memory. The pre-match news which heartened the Celtic faithful was the inclusion of Moussa Dembele in the starting line-up, the French striker having overcome an injury concern, which had kept him out of Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Motherwell, to take his place as spearhead of the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. In his previous Champions League outing against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris, Dembele scored in the opening 90 seconds of a 7-1 thrashing, but he had little to do throughout a first half in which Anderlecht were the more aggressive team, as they necessarily pursued a reversal of the 3-0 defeat inflicted by the Hoops when these sides first met in Brussels. To the audible alarm of the home crowd, Sven Kums was first to get an effort on target after only two minutes of play and it took a full stretch leg block by Craig Gordon to turn the ball around the post for a corner kick. The goalkeeper was called into action on two more occasions during the remainder of the half, the first being an alarming Anderlecht surge which culminated in a dangerous overhead kick from Adrien Trebel from the heart of the box. Celtic's Moussa Dembele shakes hands with manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted Credit: PA The same player was offered another opportunity when James Forrest, trying to pass from a deep position, played the ball straight to the Frenchman, who hit his shot firmly and just below the crossbar, which might have been awkward for Gordon had it been played to either side of him, but instead it made for a simple clutch. The crowd’s restlessness was heard in proportion to Celtic’s torpor, which could be gauged from the fact that it took until seven minutes for the break for them to display sufficient menace to force their first corner kick, the product of a foray by Kieran Tierney. Certainly, the lead-up to this game included two testing encounters with Motherwell, in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park and in the league at Fir Park, but when the pair met for the third time at Parkhead on Saturday, Rodgers rested half a dozen players with this fixture in mind. The Celtic manager did not look enchanted when the Slovenian referee signalled half time and even the normally buoyant Brown looked preoccupied on a night when he had made history. The crucial comfort for Celtic was that Anderlecht had come no closer to the 3-0 victory required to deprive the Hoops of their place in Europe after Christmas but Rodgers signalled his own feelings with a double substitution for the restart, with Olivier Ntcham and Tom Rogic coming on for Stuart Armstrong and Scott Sinclair respectively. Celtic vs Anderlecht shots on goal The new blood and a discernible increase in Celtic’s tempo lifted the crowd’s spirits, and Forrest drew a full-blooded roar when he cut in from the left to delver a typical curling effort that was fingertipped behind by Franck Boeckx. It was at the other end, however that the stalemate was broken, with the unwilling assistance of Simunovic, when Pieter Gerken glanced a cross from the right off the Celtic defender’s stooping shoulder and beyond Gordon. Celtic’s situation threatened to deteriorate when the diligent Sofian Hanni let fly with an effort which made Gordon work at the expense of a corner kick, but Rodgers’ players held out to ensure their extended European participation, after the opportunity to reinforce in the January transfer window.

Celtic 0 Anderlecht 1: Hosts qualify for Europa League despite Jozo Simunovic own goal

The Europa League awaits Celtic in the spring but only after an undistinguished performance on an awkward evening which saw them lose to Anderlecht by a Jozo Simunovic own goal midway through the second half of the final Champions League outing for both sides. The occasion was notable for Scott Brown’s 69th appearance in the tournament, which took him past Kenny Dalglish’s European Cup total at both Celtic and Liverpool, but it was also a frustrating outing which ensured that Brendan Rodgers has yet to win a Champions League group stage game at home in two campaigns at that level. That said, Celtic achieved an aim which would have been acceptable to them at the start of the season and they will no doubt take that as comfort after a gusty and unhospitable evening that will be expunged from the collective memory. The pre-match news which heartened the Celtic faithful was the inclusion of Moussa Dembele in the starting line-up, the French striker having overcome an injury concern, which had kept him out of Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Motherwell, to take his place as spearhead of the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. In his previous Champions League outing against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris, Dembele scored in the opening 90 seconds of a 7-1 thrashing, but he had little to do throughout a first half in which Anderlecht were the more aggressive team, as they necessarily pursued a reversal of the 3-0 defeat inflicted by the Hoops when these sides first met in Brussels. To the audible alarm of the home crowd, Sven Kums was first to get an effort on target after only two minutes of play and it took a full stretch leg block by Craig Gordon to turn the ball around the post for a corner kick. The goalkeeper was called into action on two more occasions during the remainder of the half, the first being an alarming Anderlecht surge which culminated in a dangerous overhead kick from Adrien Trebel from the heart of the box. Celtic's Moussa Dembele shakes hands with manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted Credit: PA The same player was offered another opportunity when James Forrest, trying to pass from a deep position, played the ball straight to the Frenchman, who hit his shot firmly and just below the crossbar, which might have been awkward for Gordon had it been played to either side of him, but instead it made for a simple clutch. The crowd’s restlessness was heard in proportion to Celtic’s torpor, which could be gauged from the fact that it took until seven minutes for the break for them to display sufficient menace to force their first corner kick, the product of a foray by Kieran Tierney. Certainly, the lead-up to this game included two testing encounters with Motherwell, in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park and in the league at Fir Park, but when the pair met for the third time at Parkhead on Saturday, Rodgers rested half a dozen players with this fixture in mind. The Celtic manager did not look enchanted when the Slovenian referee signalled half time and even the normally buoyant Brown looked preoccupied on a night when he had made history. The crucial comfort for Celtic was that Anderlecht had come no closer to the 3-0 victory required to deprive the Hoops of their place in Europe after Christmas but Rodgers signalled his own feelings with a double substitution for the restart, with Olivier Ntcham and Tom Rogic coming on for Stuart Armstrong and Scott Sinclair respectively. Celtic vs Anderlecht shots on goal The new blood and a discernible increase in Celtic’s tempo lifted the crowd’s spirits, and Forrest drew a full-blooded roar when he cut in from the left to delver a typical curling effort that was fingertipped behind by Franck Boeckx. It was at the other end, however that the stalemate was broken, with the unwilling assistance of Simunovic, when Pieter Gerken glanced a cross from the right off the Celtic defender’s stooping shoulder and beyond Gordon. Celtic’s situation threatened to deteriorate when the diligent Sofian Hanni let fly with an effort which made Gordon work at the expense of a corner kick, but Rodgers’ players held out to ensure their extended European participation, after the opportunity to reinforce in the January transfer window.

Celtic will look to maintain momentum against Anderlecht, says Brendan Rodgers

There current flow of Celtic’s fortunes is beginning to resemble a riptide and it will surge onwards on Tuesday evening if they do nothing more than avoid a 3-0 defeat by Anderlecht in the teams’ last Champions League group stage outing at Parkhead. Any outcome better than that will guarantee the Hoops European football after Christmas for the first time in five years. Such reward would complete a particularly satisfying few days for Brendan Rodgers & Co, who last week successfully defended the first leg of the previous season’s domestic treble by beating Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final and went on to win back-to-back league matches against the same opponents. At the same time, Celtic were done a good turn by Rangers’ wins over Aberdeen at Ibrox and Pittodrie, which left the league leaders with a seven-point advantage over both of these sides in the Scottish Premiership. Like Anderlecht, Celtic saw their chances of progressing in the Champions League universally discounted because of the presence of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in Group B. The difference between the two bottom sides, though, was established by Celtic’s impressive 3-0 win in Brussels. The feat did not impress Paul van Himst, the former Anderlecht player and coach, who expressed disdain for the Scottish champions when he said: “We should never have allowed ourselves to lose to a team of peasants like Celtic. They were a bunch of woodcutters.” The extraordinary outburst by Himst, who holds the joint scoring record of 30 goals for the Belgian national side, evoked memories of Celtic’s most recent progress to the later stages of European competition, under Neil Lennon in 2012 when a Russian journalist interrupted Scott Brown’s media briefing before a home match against Spartak Moscow to present the Parkhead captain with a copy of Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ and accuse Celtic of ‘crimes against football’ in respect of their earlier victory in Moscow. Odsonne Edouard came into the Celtic team and scored a hat-trick on the weekend Credit:  Getty Images The scribe’s specific grievance was that Celtic’s success contributed to the sacking of Unai Emery. If Emery bore any grievance on that score, he has remedied them in his current incarnation as manager of Paris Saint-Germain, having beaten Celtic 5-0 in Glasgow and even more emphatically in France, where they won 7-1. Brown, meanwhile, has remained in situ at Celtic and his appearance this evening will see him set a new Scottish record of 69 appearances in Europe's premier competition, surpassing the total achieved by Kenny Dalglish, with Celtic and Liverpool. “He's in great company with Kenny, who is obviously a real legend here and at Liverpool,” said Rodgers. “It's a mark of his consistency, to have played that number of games under various managers. It's a great accolade and hopefully he's got many more ahead of him.” Group B permutations Rodgers also seeks to reach a significant milestone. Celtic have not won a Champions League group stage game on their own turf in five attempts under his management. “We played very well in the first game over there and now we look to finish it off at home,” said the manager. “They will come to attack and look for a victory but that's also what we want. We want to give the supporters a Champions League win at home. That would take us to six points, which would show a great level of progress for us at this level. “For us it’s 0-0. We want to win the game. We’ll be tactically prepared and look to put on a performance. We know if we can do that then it will equate to a good result for us. Celtic beat Anderlecht 3-0 in September Credit: REUTERS “In my time playing here in the Champions League has been great. It would be nice to finish it with a win. You can never switch the engine off at this level. You can’t switch off for a second.” Rodgers had the squad capacity to field several non-regulars in the 5-1 home win over Motherwell on Saturday and one of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, took advantage of the opportunity to net a hat-trick, having scored only once previously for the team he joined on loan from PSG in the summer. “His confidence is really high and it gives us another option,” Rodgers said of the 19-year-old. “I’ve got three different types of strikers. Odsonne has settled in very well and his talent was there for all to see at the weekend. “Along with Leigh [Griffiths], who's shown he is a fantastic goalscorer, he and Moussa give us great striking options. "He's very young. He comes here with a great track record and he's come to develop his game. Myself and the other coaching staff, we see that development on and off the field. He has all the attributes, he's very quick. He's very strong and mentally he's maturing all the time.” Celtic (probable) (4-2-3-1):Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Anderlecht (probable) (3-4-3): Seis; Spajic, Deschacht, Kara; Appiah, Dendoncker, Kums, Trebel; Onyekuru, Hanni, Teodorczyk Referee: Matej Jug (Slovenia).

Celtic will look to maintain momentum against Anderlecht, says Brendan Rodgers

There current flow of Celtic’s fortunes is beginning to resemble a riptide and it will surge onwards on Tuesday evening if they do nothing more than avoid a 3-0 defeat by Anderlecht in the teams’ last Champions League group stage outing at Parkhead. Any outcome better than that will guarantee the Hoops European football after Christmas for the first time in five years. Such reward would complete a particularly satisfying few days for Brendan Rodgers & Co, who last week successfully defended the first leg of the previous season’s domestic treble by beating Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final and went on to win back-to-back league matches against the same opponents. At the same time, Celtic were done a good turn by Rangers’ wins over Aberdeen at Ibrox and Pittodrie, which left the league leaders with a seven-point advantage over both of these sides in the Scottish Premiership. Like Anderlecht, Celtic saw their chances of progressing in the Champions League universally discounted because of the presence of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in Group B. The difference between the two bottom sides, though, was established by Celtic’s impressive 3-0 win in Brussels. The feat did not impress Paul van Himst, the former Anderlecht player and coach, who expressed disdain for the Scottish champions when he said: “We should never have allowed ourselves to lose to a team of peasants like Celtic. They were a bunch of woodcutters.” The extraordinary outburst by Himst, who holds the joint scoring record of 30 goals for the Belgian national side, evoked memories of Celtic’s most recent progress to the later stages of European competition, under Neil Lennon in 2012 when a Russian journalist interrupted Scott Brown’s media briefing before a home match against Spartak Moscow to present the Parkhead captain with a copy of Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ and accuse Celtic of ‘crimes against football’ in respect of their earlier victory in Moscow. Odsonne Edouard came into the Celtic team and scored a hat-trick on the weekend Credit:  Getty Images The scribe’s specific grievance was that Celtic’s success contributed to the sacking of Unai Emery. If Emery bore any grievance on that score, he has remedied them in his current incarnation as manager of Paris Saint-Germain, having beaten Celtic 5-0 in Glasgow and even more emphatically in France, where they won 7-1. Brown, meanwhile, has remained in situ at Celtic and his appearance this evening will see him set a new Scottish record of 69 appearances in Europe's premier competition, surpassing the total achieved by Kenny Dalglish, with Celtic and Liverpool. “He's in great company with Kenny, who is obviously a real legend here and at Liverpool,” said Rodgers. “It's a mark of his consistency, to have played that number of games under various managers. It's a great accolade and hopefully he's got many more ahead of him.” Group B permutations Rodgers also seeks to reach a significant milestone. Celtic have not won a Champions League group stage game on their own turf in five attempts under his management. “We played very well in the first game over there and now we look to finish it off at home,” said the manager. “They will come to attack and look for a victory but that's also what we want. We want to give the supporters a Champions League win at home. That would take us to six points, which would show a great level of progress for us at this level. “For us it’s 0-0. We want to win the game. We’ll be tactically prepared and look to put on a performance. We know if we can do that then it will equate to a good result for us. Celtic beat Anderlecht 3-0 in September Credit: REUTERS “In my time playing here in the Champions League has been great. It would be nice to finish it with a win. You can never switch the engine off at this level. You can’t switch off for a second.” Rodgers had the squad capacity to field several non-regulars in the 5-1 home win over Motherwell on Saturday and one of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, took advantage of the opportunity to net a hat-trick, having scored only once previously for the team he joined on loan from PSG in the summer. “His confidence is really high and it gives us another option,” Rodgers said of the 19-year-old. “I’ve got three different types of strikers. Odsonne has settled in very well and his talent was there for all to see at the weekend. “Along with Leigh [Griffiths], who's shown he is a fantastic goalscorer, he and Moussa give us great striking options. "He's very young. He comes here with a great track record and he's come to develop his game. Myself and the other coaching staff, we see that development on and off the field. He has all the attributes, he's very quick. He's very strong and mentally he's maturing all the time.” Celtic (probable) (4-2-3-1):Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Anderlecht (probable) (3-4-3): Seis; Spajic, Deschacht, Kara; Appiah, Dendoncker, Kums, Trebel; Onyekuru, Hanni, Teodorczyk Referee: Matej Jug (Slovenia).

Celtic will look to maintain momentum against Anderlecht, says Brendan Rodgers

There current flow of Celtic’s fortunes is beginning to resemble a riptide and it will surge onwards on Tuesday evening if they do nothing more than avoid a 3-0 defeat by Anderlecht in the teams’ last Champions League group stage outing at Parkhead. Any outcome better than that will guarantee the Hoops European football after Christmas for the first time in five years. Such reward would complete a particularly satisfying few days for Brendan Rodgers & Co, who last week successfully defended the first leg of the previous season’s domestic treble by beating Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final and went on to win back-to-back league matches against the same opponents. At the same time, Celtic were done a good turn by Rangers’ wins over Aberdeen at Ibrox and Pittodrie, which left the league leaders with a seven-point advantage over both of these sides in the Scottish Premiership. Like Anderlecht, Celtic saw their chances of progressing in the Champions League universally discounted because of the presence of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in Group B. The difference between the two bottom sides, though, was established by Celtic’s impressive 3-0 win in Brussels. The feat did not impress Paul van Himst, the former Anderlecht player and coach, who expressed disdain for the Scottish champions when he said: “We should never have allowed ourselves to lose to a team of peasants like Celtic. They were a bunch of woodcutters.” The extraordinary outburst by Himst, who holds the joint scoring record of 30 goals for the Belgian national side, evoked memories of Celtic’s most recent progress to the later stages of European competition, under Neil Lennon in 2012 when a Russian journalist interrupted Scott Brown’s media briefing before a home match against Spartak Moscow to present the Parkhead captain with a copy of Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ and accuse Celtic of ‘crimes against football’ in respect of their earlier victory in Moscow. Odsonne Edouard came into the Celtic team and scored a hat-trick on the weekend Credit:  Getty Images The scribe’s specific grievance was that Celtic’s success contributed to the sacking of Unai Emery. If Emery bore any grievance on that score, he has remedied them in his current incarnation as manager of Paris Saint-Germain, having beaten Celtic 5-0 in Glasgow and even more emphatically in France, where they won 7-1. Brown, meanwhile, has remained in situ at Celtic and his appearance this evening will see him set a new Scottish record of 69 appearances in Europe's premier competition, surpassing the total achieved by Kenny Dalglish, with Celtic and Liverpool. “He's in great company with Kenny, who is obviously a real legend here and at Liverpool,” said Rodgers. “It's a mark of his consistency, to have played that number of games under various managers. It's a great accolade and hopefully he's got many more ahead of him.” Group B permutations Rodgers also seeks to reach a significant milestone. Celtic have not won a Champions League group stage game on their own turf in five attempts under his management. “We played very well in the first game over there and now we look to finish it off at home,” said the manager. “They will come to attack and look for a victory but that's also what we want. We want to give the supporters a Champions League win at home. That would take us to six points, which would show a great level of progress for us at this level. “For us it’s 0-0. We want to win the game. We’ll be tactically prepared and look to put on a performance. We know if we can do that then it will equate to a good result for us. Celtic beat Anderlecht 3-0 in September Credit: REUTERS “In my time playing here in the Champions League has been great. It would be nice to finish it with a win. You can never switch the engine off at this level. You can’t switch off for a second.” Rodgers had the squad capacity to field several non-regulars in the 5-1 home win over Motherwell on Saturday and one of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, took advantage of the opportunity to net a hat-trick, having scored only once previously for the team he joined on loan from PSG in the summer. “His confidence is really high and it gives us another option,” Rodgers said of the 19-year-old. “I’ve got three different types of strikers. Odsonne has settled in very well and his talent was there for all to see at the weekend. “Along with Leigh [Griffiths], who's shown he is a fantastic goalscorer, he and Moussa give us great striking options. "He's very young. He comes here with a great track record and he's come to develop his game. Myself and the other coaching staff, we see that development on and off the field. He has all the attributes, he's very quick. He's very strong and mentally he's maturing all the time.” Celtic (probable) (4-2-3-1):Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Anderlecht (probable) (3-4-3): Seis; Spajic, Deschacht, Kara; Appiah, Dendoncker, Kums, Trebel; Onyekuru, Hanni, Teodorczyk Referee: Matej Jug (Slovenia).

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Celtic's form has James Forrest dreaming of a European run to rival 2003

James Forrest played for Celtic last time they were in a European final, when the Hoops lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time in Seville in 2003. To be more precise, while Martin O’Neill’s men were edged out of the silverware by a Porto side under the leadership of Jose Mourinho, Forrest was featuring as an 11-year-old for one of the Parkhead club’s boys’ teams. On Tuesday night, however, Celtic can secure European football after Christmas providing that they get any result better than a 4-0 defeat at home to Anderlecht in their final Champions League group match. Brendan Rodgers’ players would then go into the Europa League, a tournament which offers them the chance of progress at that level into the spring of next year. Celtic would require a degree of luck in the draw because although there are no teams of the calibre of Paris Saint-Germain – who have beaten them 5-0 in Glasgow and 7-1 in France in their Champions League group – the Europa League knockout stage will still feature the likes of Arsenal, AC Milan, Lazio, Diamo Kiev, Olympique Marseille and Villareal. Still, Hoops fans nourish hope of a campaign that would rekindle memories of the adventures of their 2003 side, who prevailed against Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, Stuttgart, Liverpool and Boavista to reach the final, to which they were followed by an estimated 80,000 supporters, fewer than half of whom had tickets for the match. “It was a memorable year, a special season,” said Forrest. “They did really well, they got on a run, but back then, they were probably just taking it a game at time. I don't think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic's players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don't think anybody has really thought about the Europa League. At the start of the season the goal was to get into the Champions League and we wanted to be in Europe after Christmas. “Now we’re coming to the last Champions League game at home at Celtic Park and we want to make sure we have a good result and a positive performance and take it from there, game by game.” Forrest has enjoyed a buoyant campaign so far. Never a prolific scorer, his most productive season was 2011-12, when he netted nine times in 43 appearances. This time around he is on 10 goals from 32 outings and his strike for the opener in last Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final helped ensure him a 12th medal to show for his nine years at the club. “I’ve matched Bobby Lennox now by scoring in three League Cup Finals, which is great,” said the 26-year-old. “But I don't sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you've normally got a game a few days later, so you just win it and move on. Celtic breezed past Motherwell Credit: Getty images “And you never want to stop with what you've got. I've been in the first team for seven years and only Broony (Scott Brown) is still here from when I made my debut. “The number of players who have come and gone is scary, but it's gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it's been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I've been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I'm not one for framing stuff but it's great to have so many – and the most important one is the next.” Rodgers made six changes to his team with Anderlecht in mind next week Credit: Getty images Forrest was on the bench for the third meeting on the bounce of Celtic and Motherwell. With the Anderlecht tie in mind, Rodgers made no fewer than six changes to the team who drew 1-1 at Fir Park in midweek. One of the incomers, Odsonne Edouard, made an immediate impact with two first half goals and only a very slow offside decision denied Tom Rogic another when he was put clear by Olivier Ntcham just before the break. Elliot Frear reduced the deficit against the run of play in the second half before Forrest arrived as a sub to net Celtic’s third and fifth in the 76th minute, before Odsonne secured his hat-trick from close range.       Elsewhere, there were victories for Kilmarnock at St Johnstone, Dundee away to Ross County and Hibernian against Partick Thistle at Firhill, while Hearts drew at home with Hamilton. Sunday sees attention switch to Pittodrie, where Aberdeen meet Rangers for the second time in four days, the Dons having lost 3-0 at Ibrox on Wednesday. The game will proceed against a background of intense speculation within Scottish football that Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, remains Rangers’ principal target to replace Pedro Caixinha, who was sacked in October and that developments could occur as early as Monday.

Celtic hoping to end Motherwell trilogy with victory following Fir Park scare

The number 67 – perpetually totemic for Celtic fans because of their European Cup win 50 years ago – will be doubly significant if the Scottish champions avoid defeat at home against Motherwell on Saturday. In that event, the Hoops will record their 67th successive unbeaten domestic game, an accomplishment Motherwell would dearly like to deny their hosts as the pair meet for the third time in a week. The teams are not alone in having to play the second instalment of a league double-header this weekend – Aberdeen host Rangers on Sunday, having lost 3-0 at Ibrox in midweek – but the fact that Motherwell and Celtic contested the Betfred Scottish Cup final last Sunday at Hampden Park guaranteed three collisions in succession and consequential friction. Motherwell came within two minutes of putting an end to Celtic’s extraordinary run at Fir Park on Wednesday only to inflict damage upon themselves when Andy Rose’s needless challenge on Callum McGregor was judged to merit a penalty kick by Willie Collum. Motherwell, already angered by what they believed was a dive by Scott Sinclair for what proved to be a decisive penalty kick in Sunday’s final, have asked the Scottish Football Association’s head of refereeing, John Fleming, for feedback on both decisions, but their manager, Stephen Robinson, said that he had not been involved in that exercise. “In truth, I’m expecting nothing,” he said. “It’s the people above me who have gone to John Fleming. For me, the decision was made and Celtic won the cup. They came back and got a point the other night. All the appealing and moaning in the world isn’t going to change that. “No-one’s talking about how good a game it was. We’re meant to be promoting Scottish football instead of talking about the negative aspects of it all the time. Celtic will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run Credit: Getty Images “You literally cannot touch players. That’s not just Celtic players, that’s every player. That’s just modern-day football. It’s very minimal contact now, but I can’t tell my players to stand off Scott Sinclair or Patrick Roberts, because if you stand off them they are going to score. “It’s a fine line and you are just hoping for strong decisions and the right decisions. Some will go for you, some won’t. That’s football.” Having twice failed to disrupt Celtic’s procession this week, Motherwell’s task is made even harder on Saturday by the fact that the champions are back on their home turf for the first time since October 31, having played five games on the road in November. In addition, the league leaders have scored in every one of their run of 66 unbeaten domestic contests although, as Brendan Rodgers pointed out, the incidence of penalty kicks in their favour has been exceptionally low. “We were at the bottom of the table for penalties given before Wednesday night,” the Celtic manager said. “I suspect, if there was analysis done, we’re probably in the box more than any team – and in the box with quality possession. I said after the League Cup final that I don’t think we get the penalties we should get. “There are three values in our team, which are respect, unity and excellence, all defined by the players and staff and I think how they’ve lived up to those values has been incredible, really. “So, we aim always to win but also, importantly for me, is to reinforce the values of the club, the team and always winning in a sporting way. The 100 greatest Champions League moments That’s what we always try to do and, if we draw a game or whatever, we have to be honest enough and move on. “People will always find a reason to be negative but that’s OK. We know how we are. We’ve demonstrated that often enough, so our headlines are for the game and always will be. You lose track of what people are trying to say and it doesn’t bother us. “Listen, we’re all human. We see it. How many times have you watched a game where the guy stays up and straight away people say, ‘If he goes down he gets a penalty’? “We can’t be contradictory here. You know that if you stay on your feet you don’t get it – let’s be clear – but at the same time, if a player does go down if he’s impeded, he shouldn’t be punished for it either. “I certainly haven’t seen it happen where a player is in the box, he’s impeded, stays on his feet and gets a penalty. Again, both referees were in perfect positions. Craig Thomson was right up with the game on Sunday. In fairness to Willie Collum on Wednesday night, he was right on the spot.” Which is what one can say about Kevin Clancy, who will be in charge on Saturday. Not that anybody intends to put him under pressure, of course.

Celtic hoping to end Motherwell trilogy with victory following Fir Park scare

Celtic hoping to end Motherwell trilogy with victory following Fir Park scare

Celtic hoping to end Motherwell trilogy with victory following Fir Park scare

The number 67 – perpetually totemic for Celtic fans because of their European Cup win 50 years ago – will be doubly significant if the Scottish champions avoid defeat at home against Motherwell on Saturday. In that event, the Hoops will record their 67th successive unbeaten domestic game, an accomplishment Motherwell would dearly like to deny their hosts as the pair meet for the third time in a week. The teams are not alone in having to play the second instalment of a league double-header this weekend – Aberdeen host Rangers on Sunday, having lost 3-0 at Ibrox in midweek – but the fact that Motherwell and Celtic contested the Betfred Scottish Cup final last Sunday at Hampden Park guaranteed three collisions in succession and consequential friction. Motherwell came within two minutes of putting an end to Celtic’s extraordinary run at Fir Park on Wednesday only to inflict damage upon themselves when Andy Rose’s needless challenge on Callum McGregor was judged to merit a penalty kick by Willie Collum. Motherwell, already angered by what they believed was a dive by Scott Sinclair for what proved to be a decisive penalty kick in Sunday’s final, have asked the Scottish Football Association’s head of refereeing, John Fleming, for feedback on both decisions, but their manager, Stephen Robinson, said that he had not been involved in that exercise. “In truth, I’m expecting nothing,” he said. “It’s the people above me who have gone to John Fleming. For me, the decision was made and Celtic won the cup. They came back and got a point the other night. All the appealing and moaning in the world isn’t going to change that. “No-one’s talking about how good a game it was. We’re meant to be promoting Scottish football instead of talking about the negative aspects of it all the time. Celtic will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run Credit: Getty Images “You literally cannot touch players. That’s not just Celtic players, that’s every player. That’s just modern-day football. It’s very minimal contact now, but I can’t tell my players to stand off Scott Sinclair or Patrick Roberts, because if you stand off them they are going to score. “It’s a fine line and you are just hoping for strong decisions and the right decisions. Some will go for you, some won’t. That’s football.” Having twice failed to disrupt Celtic’s procession this week, Motherwell’s task is made even harder on Saturday by the fact that the champions are back on their home turf for the first time since October 31, having played five games on the road in November. In addition, the league leaders have scored in every one of their run of 66 unbeaten domestic contests although, as Brendan Rodgers pointed out, the incidence of penalty kicks in their favour has been exceptionally low. “We were at the bottom of the table for penalties given before Wednesday night,” the Celtic manager said. “I suspect, if there was analysis done, we’re probably in the box more than any team – and in the box with quality possession. I said after the League Cup final that I don’t think we get the penalties we should get. “There are three values in our team, which are respect, unity and excellence, all defined by the players and staff and I think how they’ve lived up to those values has been incredible, really. “So, we aim always to win but also, importantly for me, is to reinforce the values of the club, the team and always winning in a sporting way. The 100 greatest Champions League moments That’s what we always try to do and, if we draw a game or whatever, we have to be honest enough and move on. “People will always find a reason to be negative but that’s OK. We know how we are. We’ve demonstrated that often enough, so our headlines are for the game and always will be. You lose track of what people are trying to say and it doesn’t bother us. “Listen, we’re all human. We see it. How many times have you watched a game where the guy stays up and straight away people say, ‘If he goes down he gets a penalty’? “We can’t be contradictory here. You know that if you stay on your feet you don’t get it – let’s be clear – but at the same time, if a player does go down if he’s impeded, he shouldn’t be punished for it either. “I certainly haven’t seen it happen where a player is in the box, he’s impeded, stays on his feet and gets a penalty. Again, both referees were in perfect positions. Craig Thomson was right up with the game on Sunday. In fairness to Willie Collum on Wednesday night, he was right on the spot.” Which is what one can say about Kevin Clancy, who will be in charge on Saturday. Not that anybody intends to put him under pressure, of course.

Celtic hoping to end Motherwell trilogy with victory following Fir Park scare

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

As Celtic and Motherwell prepare for tomorrow’s meeting at Parkhead – their third face-to-face inside a week - Scott Brown criticised the SPFL for allowing the fixture list to pair the sides so frequently in succession in a sequence which has already proved to be contentious. Celtic beat the Steelmen 2-0 in Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park and took their total of successive domestic games unbeaten to 66 in Wednesday’s 1-1 league draw at Fir Park. The Hampden encounter produced two bookings apiece and a red card, shown to Cedric Kipre of Motherwell, while Wednesday’s referee, Willie Collum, cautioned four Motherwell players, plus Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths. Both Collum and Sunday’s match official, Craig Thomson, awarded Celtic penalty kicks that were disputed vehemently by Motherwell, during and after the contests. To add to the devil’s brew, the spot kick at Hampden was the result of a challenge by Kipre on Scott Sinclair, who became the target of vituperation by the Fir Park fans on Wednesday, only to respond by scoring Celtic’s penalty equaliser two minutes from full time. Penalty! Scott Sinclair of Celtic goes down from a challenge in the penalty box by Cedric Kipre of Motherwell Credit: Getty The SPFL, of course, could not have known the identity of Sunday’s finalists before the league fixtures were published, but Brown nevertheless expressed frustration at the schedule. “We are playing them (Motherwell) three times in a row. The SPFL have put us in that position,” said the Celtic captain. “After winning a cup, you play the same team two and a half days later? It shouldn’t really happen. I know the fixtures are building up but there is plenty of time after Christmas. “I’m not surprised by it - because it’s the SPFL. There was no explanation given. If you asked Motherwell or ourselves, we would want some time off after a cup final. As the winners, you would like time to enjoy it - not to be thrown right in at the deep end again against the same opponent. “We could play more games at the end of January or towards the end of the season, before the split. There will be plenty of time. “You would think they would try and help us out with our Champions League game (against Anderlecht) coming up next week, because it’s good for Scottish football if we do well.” Argy-bargy: Referee Willie Collum splits up Mikael Lustig and Cedric Kipre at Fir Park Credit: Action Plus Brown also condemned the throwing of missiles by a section of the Motherwell support at Fir Park. He and Mikael Lustig, the Celtic full back, who had put Motherwell ahead with an own goal, were seen to pick up objects from the pitch in the second half and Brown said: “It is always from that same section. You’d think they would eventually move those fans around to stop it happening. “I made a pound. There was a coin and strawberry Chewits – I picked them up too. It isn’t showing a great example, especially when there are kids there. “They gave us pelters for 90 minutes. Motherwell celebrated like they had won the World Cup when we scored their goal. When we celebrate they throw coins at us.” FAO Scott Sinclair: a Motherwell supporter holds up a homemade A4 sign Credit: Action Plus via Getty Meanwhile, Celtic winger Patrick Roberts suffered a hamstring strain during Wednesday’s game and will probably be out until New Year, according to his manager. “We’re waiting on the scan but it will most probably be the problem he’s had before,” Brendan Rodgers said. “The medical and sports science team are looking over the trends to see if there’s something mechanical behind it, or whether there’s something the player can do better. It’s unfortunate for Pat because he started the game well and when he’s in the mood he’s a joy to watch." Motherwell responded last night with a statement which read: “Many supporters have contacted the club today seeking clarity on our position regarding incidents during Wednesday night’s fixture with Celtic.  “Firstly, it is unfortunate that yet another Motherwell match has been dominated by a debatable decision from a match official. It is a call that has left the majority of our supporters again feeling extremely frustrated.  "Whilst everyone in football accepts that match officials have a challenging role, and getting everything correct is almost impossible, it is disappointing to see high profile decisions affect both Wednesday night’s match and the Betfred Cup final in the way they have.  “To that end, we have made contact with the Scottish FA's Head of Refereeing to express our views and seek feedback. “In addition, the board would like to thank our fans for yet another strong turnout and for their backing of the team. Our average attendances are up almost 30% this season as Stephen Robinson and his squad continue to capture the imagination. “However, we also note the comments of the Celtic captain today. As we do at every match at Fir Park, if any incidents are reported to us, we will fully investigate them. Should any evidence exist, we will take appropriate action against any individuals who have acted unacceptably. “In addition, we will work with Celtic Football Club to fully investigate, amongst other things, the numerous acts of vandalism, including 206 broken seats, damaged toilets and graffiti in the McEwan Fraser Legal South Stand."

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

As Celtic and Motherwell prepare for tomorrow’s meeting at Parkhead – their third face-to-face inside a week - Scott Brown criticised the SPFL for allowing the fixture list to pair the sides so frequently in succession in a sequence which has already proved to be contentious. Celtic beat the Steelmen 2-0 in Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park and took their total of successive domestic games unbeaten to 66 in Wednesday’s 1-1 league draw at Fir Park. The Hampden encounter produced two bookings apiece and a red card, shown to Cedric Kipre of Motherwell, while Wednesday’s referee, Willie Collum, cautioned four Motherwell players, plus Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths. Both Collum and Sunday’s match official, Craig Thomson, awarded Celtic penalty kicks that were disputed vehemently by Motherwell, during and after the contests. To add to the devil’s brew, the spot kick at Hampden was the result of a challenge by Kipre on Scott Sinclair, who became the target of vituperation by the Fir Park fans on Wednesday, only to respond by scoring Celtic’s penalty equaliser two minutes from full time. Penalty! Scott Sinclair of Celtic goes down from a challenge in the penalty box by Cedric Kipre of Motherwell Credit: Getty The SPFL, of course, could not have known the identity of Sunday’s finalists before the league fixtures were published, but Brown nevertheless expressed frustration at the schedule. “We are playing them (Motherwell) three times in a row. The SPFL have put us in that position,” said the Celtic captain. “After winning a cup, you play the same team two and a half days later? It shouldn’t really happen. I know the fixtures are building up but there is plenty of time after Christmas. “I’m not surprised by it - because it’s the SPFL. There was no explanation given. If you asked Motherwell or ourselves, we would want some time off after a cup final. As the winners, you would like time to enjoy it - not to be thrown right in at the deep end again against the same opponent. “We could play more games at the end of January or towards the end of the season, before the split. There will be plenty of time. “You would think they would try and help us out with our Champions League game (against Anderlecht) coming up next week, because it’s good for Scottish football if we do well.” Argy-bargy: Referee Willie Collum splits up Mikael Lustig and Cedric Kipre at Fir Park Credit: Action Plus Brown also condemned the throwing of missiles by a section of the Motherwell support at Fir Park. He and Mikael Lustig, the Celtic full back, who had put Motherwell ahead with an own goal, were seen to pick up objects from the pitch in the second half and Brown said: “It is always from that same section. You’d think they would eventually move those fans around to stop it happening. “I made a pound. There was a coin and strawberry Chewits – I picked them up too. It isn’t showing a great example, especially when there are kids there. “They gave us pelters for 90 minutes. Motherwell celebrated like they had won the World Cup when we scored their goal. When we celebrate they throw coins at us.” FAO Scott Sinclair: a Motherwell supporter holds up a homemade A4 sign Credit: Action Plus via Getty Meanwhile, Celtic winger Patrick Roberts suffered a hamstring strain during Wednesday’s game and will probably be out until New Year, according to his manager. “We’re waiting on the scan but it will most probably be the problem he’s had before,” Brendan Rodgers said. “The medical and sports science team are looking over the trends to see if there’s something mechanical behind it, or whether there’s something the player can do better. It’s unfortunate for Pat because he started the game well and when he’s in the mood he’s a joy to watch." Motherwell responded last night with a statement which read: “Many supporters have contacted the club today seeking clarity on our position regarding incidents during Wednesday night’s fixture with Celtic.  “Firstly, it is unfortunate that yet another Motherwell match has been dominated by a debatable decision from a match official. It is a call that has left the majority of our supporters again feeling extremely frustrated.  "Whilst everyone in football accepts that match officials have a challenging role, and getting everything correct is almost impossible, it is disappointing to see high profile decisions affect both Wednesday night’s match and the Betfred Cup final in the way they have.  “To that end, we have made contact with the Scottish FA's Head of Refereeing to express our views and seek feedback. “In addition, the board would like to thank our fans for yet another strong turnout and for their backing of the team. Our average attendances are up almost 30% this season as Stephen Robinson and his squad continue to capture the imagination. “However, we also note the comments of the Celtic captain today. As we do at every match at Fir Park, if any incidents are reported to us, we will fully investigate them. Should any evidence exist, we will take appropriate action against any individuals who have acted unacceptably. “In addition, we will work with Celtic Football Club to fully investigate, amongst other things, the numerous acts of vandalism, including 206 broken seats, damaged toilets and graffiti in the McEwan Fraser Legal South Stand."

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

As Celtic and Motherwell prepare for tomorrow’s meeting at Parkhead – their third face-to-face inside a week - Scott Brown criticised the SPFL for allowing the fixture list to pair the sides so frequently in succession in a sequence which has already proved to be contentious. Celtic beat the Steelmen 2-0 in Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park and took their total of successive domestic games unbeaten to 66 in Wednesday’s 1-1 league draw at Fir Park. The Hampden encounter produced two bookings apiece and a red card, shown to Cedric Kipre of Motherwell, while Wednesday’s referee, Willie Collum, cautioned four Motherwell players, plus Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths. Both Collum and Sunday’s match official, Craig Thomson, awarded Celtic penalty kicks that were disputed vehemently by Motherwell, during and after the contests. To add to the devil’s brew, the spot kick at Hampden was the result of a challenge by Kipre on Scott Sinclair, who became the target of vituperation by the Fir Park fans on Wednesday, only to respond by scoring Celtic’s penalty equaliser two minutes from full time. Penalty! Scott Sinclair of Celtic goes down from a challenge in the penalty box by Cedric Kipre of Motherwell Credit: Getty The SPFL, of course, could not have known the identity of Sunday’s finalists before the league fixtures were published, but Brown nevertheless expressed frustration at the schedule. “We are playing them (Motherwell) three times in a row. The SPFL have put us in that position,” said the Celtic captain. “After winning a cup, you play the same team two and a half days later? It shouldn’t really happen. I know the fixtures are building up but there is plenty of time after Christmas. “I’m not surprised by it - because it’s the SPFL. There was no explanation given. If you asked Motherwell or ourselves, we would want some time off after a cup final. As the winners, you would like time to enjoy it - not to be thrown right in at the deep end again against the same opponent. “We could play more games at the end of January or towards the end of the season, before the split. There will be plenty of time. “You would think they would try and help us out with our Champions League game (against Anderlecht) coming up next week, because it’s good for Scottish football if we do well.” Argy-bargy: Referee Willie Collum splits up Mikael Lustig and Cedric Kipre at Fir Park Credit: Action Plus Brown also condemned the throwing of missiles by a section of the Motherwell support at Fir Park. He and Mikael Lustig, the Celtic full back, who had put Motherwell ahead with an own goal, were seen to pick up objects from the pitch in the second half and Brown said: “It is always from that same section. You’d think they would eventually move those fans around to stop it happening. “I made a pound. There was a coin and strawberry Chewits – I picked them up too. It isn’t showing a great example, especially when there are kids there. “They gave us pelters for 90 minutes. Motherwell celebrated like they had won the World Cup when we scored their goal. When we celebrate they throw coins at us.” FAO Scott Sinclair: a Motherwell supporter holds up a homemade A4 sign Credit: Action Plus via Getty Meanwhile, Celtic winger Patrick Roberts suffered a hamstring strain during Wednesday’s game and will probably be out until New Year, according to his manager. “We’re waiting on the scan but it will most probably be the problem he’s had before,” Brendan Rodgers said. “The medical and sports science team are looking over the trends to see if there’s something mechanical behind it, or whether there’s something the player can do better. It’s unfortunate for Pat because he started the game well and when he’s in the mood he’s a joy to watch." Motherwell responded last night with a statement which read: “Many supporters have contacted the club today seeking clarity on our position regarding incidents during Wednesday night’s fixture with Celtic.  “Firstly, it is unfortunate that yet another Motherwell match has been dominated by a debatable decision from a match official. It is a call that has left the majority of our supporters again feeling extremely frustrated.  "Whilst everyone in football accepts that match officials have a challenging role, and getting everything correct is almost impossible, it is disappointing to see high profile decisions affect both Wednesday night’s match and the Betfred Cup final in the way they have.  “To that end, we have made contact with the Scottish FA's Head of Refereeing to express our views and seek feedback. “In addition, the board would like to thank our fans for yet another strong turnout and for their backing of the team. Our average attendances are up almost 30% this season as Stephen Robinson and his squad continue to capture the imagination. “However, we also note the comments of the Celtic captain today. As we do at every match at Fir Park, if any incidents are reported to us, we will fully investigate them. Should any evidence exist, we will take appropriate action against any individuals who have acted unacceptably. “In addition, we will work with Celtic Football Club to fully investigate, amongst other things, the numerous acts of vandalism, including 206 broken seats, damaged toilets and graffiti in the McEwan Fraser Legal South Stand."

Celtic and Motherwell play third match in a week, this time at Parkhead, with tempers simmering

As Celtic and Motherwell prepare for tomorrow’s meeting at Parkhead – their third face-to-face inside a week - Scott Brown criticised the SPFL for allowing the fixture list to pair the sides so frequently in succession in a sequence which has already proved to be contentious. Celtic beat the Steelmen 2-0 in Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park and took their total of successive domestic games unbeaten to 66 in Wednesday’s 1-1 league draw at Fir Park. The Hampden encounter produced two bookings apiece and a red card, shown to Cedric Kipre of Motherwell, while Wednesday’s referee, Willie Collum, cautioned four Motherwell players, plus Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths. Both Collum and Sunday’s match official, Craig Thomson, awarded Celtic penalty kicks that were disputed vehemently by Motherwell, during and after the contests. To add to the devil’s brew, the spot kick at Hampden was the result of a challenge by Kipre on Scott Sinclair, who became the target of vituperation by the Fir Park fans on Wednesday, only to respond by scoring Celtic’s penalty equaliser two minutes from full time. Penalty! Scott Sinclair of Celtic goes down from a challenge in the penalty box by Cedric Kipre of Motherwell Credit: Getty The SPFL, of course, could not have known the identity of Sunday’s finalists before the league fixtures were published, but Brown nevertheless expressed frustration at the schedule. “We are playing them (Motherwell) three times in a row. The SPFL have put us in that position,” said the Celtic captain. “After winning a cup, you play the same team two and a half days later? It shouldn’t really happen. I know the fixtures are building up but there is plenty of time after Christmas. “I’m not surprised by it - because it’s the SPFL. There was no explanation given. If you asked Motherwell or ourselves, we would want some time off after a cup final. As the winners, you would like time to enjoy it - not to be thrown right in at the deep end again against the same opponent. “We could play more games at the end of January or towards the end of the season, before the split. There will be plenty of time. “You would think they would try and help us out with our Champions League game (against Anderlecht) coming up next week, because it’s good for Scottish football if we do well.” Argy-bargy: Referee Willie Collum splits up Mikael Lustig and Cedric Kipre at Fir Park Credit: Action Plus Brown also condemned the throwing of missiles by a section of the Motherwell support at Fir Park. He and Mikael Lustig, the Celtic full back, who had put Motherwell ahead with an own goal, were seen to pick up objects from the pitch in the second half and Brown said: “It is always from that same section. You’d think they would eventually move those fans around to stop it happening. “I made a pound. There was a coin and strawberry Chewits – I picked them up too. It isn’t showing a great example, especially when there are kids there. “They gave us pelters for 90 minutes. Motherwell celebrated like they had won the World Cup when we scored their goal. When we celebrate they throw coins at us.” FAO Scott Sinclair: a Motherwell supporter holds up a homemade A4 sign Credit: Action Plus via Getty Meanwhile, Celtic winger Patrick Roberts suffered a hamstring strain during Wednesday’s game and will probably be out until New Year, according to his manager. “We’re waiting on the scan but it will most probably be the problem he’s had before,” Brendan Rodgers said. “The medical and sports science team are looking over the trends to see if there’s something mechanical behind it, or whether there’s something the player can do better. It’s unfortunate for Pat because he started the game well and when he’s in the mood he’s a joy to watch." Motherwell responded last night with a statement which read: “Many supporters have contacted the club today seeking clarity on our position regarding incidents during Wednesday night’s fixture with Celtic.  “Firstly, it is unfortunate that yet another Motherwell match has been dominated by a debatable decision from a match official. It is a call that has left the majority of our supporters again feeling extremely frustrated.  "Whilst everyone in football accepts that match officials have a challenging role, and getting everything correct is almost impossible, it is disappointing to see high profile decisions affect both Wednesday night’s match and the Betfred Cup final in the way they have.  “To that end, we have made contact with the Scottish FA's Head of Refereeing to express our views and seek feedback. “In addition, the board would like to thank our fans for yet another strong turnout and for their backing of the team. Our average attendances are up almost 30% this season as Stephen Robinson and his squad continue to capture the imagination. “However, we also note the comments of the Celtic captain today. As we do at every match at Fir Park, if any incidents are reported to us, we will fully investigate them. Should any evidence exist, we will take appropriate action against any individuals who have acted unacceptably. “In addition, we will work with Celtic Football Club to fully investigate, amongst other things, the numerous acts of vandalism, including 206 broken seats, damaged toilets and graffiti in the McEwan Fraser Legal South Stand."

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts' unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts' unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts' unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts' unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts' unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

Celtic can take their sequence of successive unbeaten domestic games to 67 – that iconic number for the club – against Motherwell at the weekend after coming within a few minutes of defeat in Lanarkshire, where Mikael Lustig’s own goal put the Steelmen ahead. For the second time in three days against Celtic, the Fir Park outfit were undone by a penalty kick – again involving Scott Sinclair – although this time converted by the winger after Andy Rose had been judged to have fouled Callum McGregor. Prior to Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park there had been no meetings between Motherwell and Celtic this season. Now, like the intermittent buses of legend, along come three in a row, with the final instalment in the east end of Glasgow on Saturday. Motherwell showed three changes from Sunday, with Elliott Frear, Deimantas Petravicus and Allan Campbell in for Liam Grimshaw, Ryan Bowman and Andy Rose. Celtic, meanwhile, brought in Leigh Griffiths for the injured Moussa Dembele and Patrick Roberts replaced Scott Sinclair, who was on the bench. On this occasion, the eve of St Andrew’s Day signalled the coldest weather of the current campaign, with the temperature dropping below zero at Fir Park as the contest proceeded. In contrast, the action on the field was contested hotly from the start, with both sides forcing corner kicks with their opening thrusts. Celtic suffered a setback 10 minutes into the proceedings when Roberts pulled up abruptly with what looked like a calf strain and had to be replaced by Tom Rogic, who moved into the central attacking midfield position behind Griffiths, with Callum McGregor moving to wide right. The personnel switch made no difference to Celtic’s accustomed shape, but one notable change from Sunday’s match was that Motherwell, who had only 31% of possession at Hampden Park, were able to go in at the interval with the satisfaction of an even split of the available ball. It was an unusually difficult night for Brendan Rodgers' side Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Nevertheless, it took a near-impossible save from Trevor Carson in injury time to keep the game scoreless at the break when Celtic produced their best move of the half to spring Kieran Tierney clear in the box, the left-back seemingly certain to find the net with a low drive from eight yards. Somehow, though, Carson dived to meet the ball on the ground with a firm glove that forced Tierney’s attempt over the crossbar, to universal disbelief. Celtic’s customary response to a scoreless opening period in a domestic outing is to raise the tempo and intensify their pressing game and they were true to type with a surge that almost capsized Motherwell. Frantic defending at full stretch kept Griffiths and Forrest at bay as, on each occasion, the Hoops fans behind Carson’s goal stretched their arms to acclaim what looked like certain goals. Carson was again called upon to make a spectacular intervention when he hurled himself at full stretch to tip a forceful effort from McGregor around his right-hand post. On the hour mark the action moved to the other end of the field where Louis Moult, Motherwell’s talisman and top scorer, came close with an overhead effort that just cleared Gordon’s crossbar. Exactly midway through the second half, Craig Tanner – with his first touch since replacing Frear – could not get enough skull on to a delivery from Richard Tait to find the net. Sinclair then arrived to derision from the home support for his part in gaining Celtic’s controversial penalty kick in Sunday’s final. In the 79th minute, Tanner’s luck turned when he struck a dangerous free kick into the Celtic box, where Lustig’s unfortunate contact threatened to end Celtic’s phenomenal record, only for Sinclair to extract redemption late on from the spot.

Motherwell 1 Celtic 1: Scott Sinclair saves Celts' unbeaten record with dramatic late penalty

Celtic can take their sequence of successive unbeaten domestic games to 67 – that iconic number for the club – against Motherwell at the weekend after coming within a few minutes of defeat in Lanarkshire, where Mikael Lustig’s own goal put the Steelmen ahead. For the second time in three days against Celtic, the Fir Park outfit were undone by a penalty kick – again involving Scott Sinclair – although this time converted by the winger after Andy Rose had been judged to have fouled Callum McGregor. Prior to Sunday’s Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park there had been no meetings between Motherwell and Celtic this season. Now, like the intermittent buses of legend, along come three in a row, with the final instalment in the east end of Glasgow on Saturday. Motherwell showed three changes from Sunday, with Elliott Frear, Deimantas Petravicus and Allan Campbell in for Liam Grimshaw, Ryan Bowman and Andy Rose. Celtic, meanwhile, brought in Leigh Griffiths for the injured Moussa Dembele and Patrick Roberts replaced Scott Sinclair, who was on the bench. On this occasion, the eve of St Andrew’s Day signalled the coldest weather of the current campaign, with the temperature dropping below zero at Fir Park as the contest proceeded. In contrast, the action on the field was contested hotly from the start, with both sides forcing corner kicks with their opening thrusts. Celtic suffered a setback 10 minutes into the proceedings when Roberts pulled up abruptly with what looked like a calf strain and had to be replaced by Tom Rogic, who moved into the central attacking midfield position behind Griffiths, with Callum McGregor moving to wide right. The personnel switch made no difference to Celtic’s accustomed shape, but one notable change from Sunday’s match was that Motherwell, who had only 31% of possession at Hampden Park, were able to go in at the interval with the satisfaction of an even split of the available ball. It was an unusually difficult night for Brendan Rodgers' side Credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Nevertheless, it took a near-impossible save from Trevor Carson in injury time to keep the game scoreless at the break when Celtic produced their best move of the half to spring Kieran Tierney clear in the box, the left-back seemingly certain to find the net with a low drive from eight yards. Somehow, though, Carson dived to meet the ball on the ground with a firm glove that forced Tierney’s attempt over the crossbar, to universal disbelief. Celtic’s customary response to a scoreless opening period in a domestic outing is to raise the tempo and intensify their pressing game and they were true to type with a surge that almost capsized Motherwell. Frantic defending at full stretch kept Griffiths and Forrest at bay as, on each occasion, the Hoops fans behind Carson’s goal stretched their arms to acclaim what looked like certain goals. Carson was again called upon to make a spectacular intervention when he hurled himself at full stretch to tip a forceful effort from McGregor around his right-hand post. On the hour mark the action moved to the other end of the field where Louis Moult, Motherwell’s talisman and top scorer, came close with an overhead effort that just cleared Gordon’s crossbar. Exactly midway through the second half, Craig Tanner – with his first touch since replacing Frear – could not get enough skull on to a delivery from Richard Tait to find the net. Sinclair then arrived to derision from the home support for his part in gaining Celtic’s controversial penalty kick in Sunday’s final. In the 79th minute, Tanner’s luck turned when he struck a dangerous free kick into the Celtic box, where Lustig’s unfortunate contact threatened to end Celtic’s phenomenal record, only for Sinclair to extract redemption late on from the spot.

Rodgers matches Stein record as Celtic wins League Cup

Celtic defeated Motherwell 2-0 Sunday at Hampden Park to retain the Scottish League Cup.

Rodgers matches Stein record as Celtic wins League Cup

Celtic defeated Motherwell 2-0 Sunday at Hampden Park to retain the Scottish League Cup.

Rodgers matches Stein record as Celtic wins League Cup

Celtic defeated Motherwell 2-0 Sunday at Hampden Park to retain the Scottish League Cup.

Celtic reinstate domestic supremacy with Scottish League Cup final victory over Motherwell

Celtic reinstate domestic supremacy with Scottish League Cup final victory over Motherwell

Celtic reinstate domestic supremacy with Scottish League Cup final victory over Motherwell

Scottish League Cup Final - Celtic vs Motherwell

Soccer Football - Scottish League Cup Final - Celtic vs Motherwell - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Britain - November 26, 2017 Celtic’s Scott Brown and team mates celebrate with the trophy after winning the Scottish League Cup Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

The chronicles of Scottish football are now inscribed in green ink, with no likely demand for another hue in the foreseeable future. Celtic’s total command of the game north of the border was restated with an ultimately comfortable win over Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park, despite a first half in which the Fir Park side acquitted themselves creditably to usher their ambitions intact into the dressing room at the interval. Only four minutes after the restart, however, that comfort was eroded when Celtic increased their tempo and James Forrest found the far corner of the net with a delightfully curled effort. Even then, Motherwell were not cowed and it needed a spectacular reflex save from Craig Gordon to block a bullet header from the tireless Louis Moult. The decisive moment arrived just before the hour mark and it left Motherwell with a sour taste, although Cedric Kipre’s error in positioning and his reaction to his mistake combined to influence Craig Thomson’s decision to award Celtic a penalty kick. Kipre’s lapse in attention allowed Scott Sinclair to get goalside of him and when the defender stuck out an arm, the Celtic winger went down. Thomson allowed play to continue momentarily but, seeing no advantage for Celtic, pointed to the spot, then showed Kipre the red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, to the Frenchman’s manifest disbelief, which could only have been aggravated by Moussa Dembele’s subsequent conversion from the spot. First sight of the incident had suggested that there was little untoward in Kipre’s challenge and TV replays from closer vantage points indicated little more than a vestigial touch. Brendan Rogers enjoys the moment Credit: Getty Images Sinclair is not known for going to ground easily but he came as close to an admission of sin when he said: “I felt a little tug on the arm and I went down. That’s it.” Stephen Robinson, the Motherwell manager, was emphatic afterwards. “I’ve seen it back - there's no contact,” he said. “Cedric hasn’t touched him and the kid's devastated. I can’t change that. “I can only affect things like giving the ball away and getting closer to them. When you go down to 10 men, there’s no chance after that. Against a team of Celtic’s quality, it's a containment issue.” Even rigid application of the Official Secrets Act could not have concealed Motherwell’s intentions in the run-up to this contest. “Our strengths are their weaknesses,” Robinson had said, indicating that his players would strive to get deep crosses into the heart of the Celtic box to test the Hoops’ central defence, the area most exposed by Paris Saint-Germain’s relentless assaults during their 7-1 thrashing of the Parkhead side in last week’s Champions League group stage encounter in Paris. Robinson, who had played a midfield diamond in the first half at Aberdeen a week previously before switching deployments to secure a notable league win in the Granite City, again demonstrated his tactical acuity by fielding Liam Grimshaw, Carl McHugh and Andy Rose as a tight trio in the middle of the park in order to deny Scott Brown the space from which the Celtic captain likes to dictate play. Dembele scores from the penalty spot Credit: Getty Images The ploy worked to the extent that Richard Tait was able to push up from his right-back beat to deliver intelligent and inviting crosses in hope of finding Louis Moult but, aware of the likely menace, Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata kept the Motherwell striker marked tightly and when the game reached its midway point scoreless, it was difficult to see what more the Steelmen could do, other than persevere with the game plan in hope of eventual reward. That possibility decreased sharply with Forrest’s opener and evaporated when Moussa Dembele put Celtic 2-0 ahead from the penalty award. Dembele, it should be said, had been entitled to satisfaction at the redress of a grievance, having been clattered by Kipre early in the proceedings and escape without sanction. In contrast, Dembele was cautioned a minute later for venting his frustration with a similar challenge on McHugh, which cost the Celtic striker a caution. After Dembele made way for Leigh Griffiths midway through the second half, his replacement hit the post with a predatory angled shot. The closest Motherwell came to consolation was then Moult also struck the upright with a free kick that turned out to be the last touch of the proceedings. By that stage, Celtic had been well within their comfort zone for half an hour and relished the celebration of their 101st trophy win when the cup was presented to Brown by the SPFL chairman and Telegraph Group vice-chairman, Murdoch MacLennan. The outcome also rep resented a fourth successive domestic honour for Rodgers, the first Celtic manager since Jock Stein to accomplish the feat. “This was our first final last year, which was important for us, but what we’ve done in the year since makes teams work even harder to stop you,” Rodgers said. “To win it this time is a very special feeling and the guys really deserved it. “The players ticked a lot of character boxes, it’s a special group of players and I've never been prouder to manage them than now. We’re here to add to the legacy of Celtic, our time here is limited and we have to win as much as we can.”

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

The chronicles of Scottish football are now inscribed in green ink, with no likely demand for another hue in the foreseeable future. Celtic’s total command of the game north of the border was restated with an ultimately comfortable win over Motherwell in the Betfred Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park, despite a first half in which the Fir Park side acquitted themselves creditably to usher their ambitions intact into the dressing room at the interval. Only four minutes after the restart, however, that comfort was eroded when Celtic increased their tempo and James Forrest found the far corner of the net with a delightfully curled effort. Even then, Motherwell were not cowed and it needed a spectacular reflex save from Craig Gordon to block a bullet header from the tireless Louis Moult. The decisive moment arrived just before the hour mark and it left Motherwell with a sour taste, although Cedric Kipre’s error in positioning and his reaction to his mistake combined to influence Craig Thomson’s decision to award Celtic a penalty kick. Kipre’s lapse in attention allowed Scott Sinclair to get goalside of him and when the defender stuck out an arm, the Celtic winger went down. Thomson allowed play to continue momentarily but, seeing no advantage for Celtic, pointed to the spot, then showed Kipre the red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, to the Frenchman’s manifest disbelief, which could only have been aggravated by Moussa Dembele’s subsequent conversion from the spot. First sight of the incident had suggested that there was little untoward in Kipre’s challenge and TV replays from closer vantage points indicated little more than a vestigial touch. Brendan Rogers enjoys the moment Credit: Getty Images Sinclair is not known for going to ground easily but he came as close to an admission of sin when he said: “I felt a little tug on the arm and I went down. That’s it.” Stephen Robinson, the Motherwell manager, was emphatic afterwards. “I’ve seen it back - there's no contact,” he said. “Cedric hasn’t touched him and the kid's devastated. I can’t change that. “I can only affect things like giving the ball away and getting closer to them. When you go down to 10 men, there’s no chance after that. Against a team of Celtic’s quality, it's a containment issue.” Even rigid application of the Official Secrets Act could not have concealed Motherwell’s intentions in the run-up to this contest. “Our strengths are their weaknesses,” Robinson had said, indicating that his players would strive to get deep crosses into the heart of the Celtic box to test the Hoops’ central defence, the area most exposed by Paris Saint-Germain’s relentless assaults during their 7-1 thrashing of the Parkhead side in last week’s Champions League group stage encounter in Paris. Robinson, who had played a midfield diamond in the first half at Aberdeen a week previously before switching deployments to secure a notable league win in the Granite City, again demonstrated his tactical acuity by fielding Liam Grimshaw, Carl McHugh and Andy Rose as a tight trio in the middle of the park in order to deny Scott Brown the space from which the Celtic captain likes to dictate play. Dembele scores from the penalty spot Credit: Getty Images The ploy worked to the extent that Richard Tait was able to push up from his right-back beat to deliver intelligent and inviting crosses in hope of finding Louis Moult but, aware of the likely menace, Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata kept the Motherwell striker marked tightly and when the game reached its midway point scoreless, it was difficult to see what more the Steelmen could do, other than persevere with the game plan in hope of eventual reward. That possibility decreased sharply with Forrest’s opener and evaporated when Moussa Dembele put Celtic 2-0 ahead from the penalty award. Dembele, it should be said, had been entitled to satisfaction at the redress of a grievance, having been clattered by Kipre early in the proceedings and escape without sanction. In contrast, Dembele was cautioned a minute later for venting his frustration with a similar challenge on McHugh, which cost the Celtic striker a caution. After Dembele made way for Leigh Griffiths midway through the second half, his replacement hit the post with a predatory angled shot. The closest Motherwell came to consolation was then Moult also struck the upright with a free kick that turned out to be the last touch of the proceedings. By that stage, Celtic had been well within their comfort zone for half an hour and relished the celebration of their 101st trophy win when the cup was presented to Brown by the SPFL chairman and Telegraph Group vice-chairman, Murdoch MacLennan. The outcome also rep resented a fourth successive domestic honour for Rodgers, the first Celtic manager since Jock Stein to accomplish the feat. “This was our first final last year, which was important for us, but what we’ve done in the year since makes teams work even harder to stop you,” Rodgers said. “To win it this time is a very special feeling and the guys really deserved it. “The players ticked a lot of character boxes, it’s a special group of players and I've never been prouder to manage them than now. We’re here to add to the legacy of Celtic, our time here is limited and we have to win as much as we can.”

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

Motherwell 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Moussa Dembele seal 101st trophy in club's history

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