Partick Thistle

Partick Thistle slideshow

Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backs calls for Scotland to remain at Hampden Park
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backs calls for Scotland to remain at Hampden Park
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Alex McLeish backs calls for Scotland to remain at Hampden Park
Alex McLeish backed Hampden Park to remain Scotland’s home ground as he began the preparations for his second spell as national manager. The Scottish Football Association are in the process of considering whether to remain at Hampden – where their administrative offices are based, alongside those of the Scottish Professional Football League – or switch major internationals and Scottish Cup finals to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. The stadium in Mount Florida saw McLeish win many of 77 Scotland caps between 1980 and 1993 and it was there that he scored in Aberdeen’s 4-1 Scottish Cup final victory over Rangers on his 200th appearance for the Dons. “I would like to stay here,” McLeish said. “If it is a question of modernisation, sometimes we have to move forward but I’ve got to say it would be hard to leave Hampden.” The venerable ground will be the venue for the first contest of McLeish’s second tenure in charge when the Scots host Costa Rica in a Friday night friendly on March 23. The countries have met only once and recollections of the occasion are painful for McLeish, who was a member of the Scotland side beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in the Italia ’90 World Cup finals. It is a measure of the decline in Scotland’s fortunes that 28 years ago a defeat in the finals of a major tournament was regarded as a calamity. “The front of the Daily Record was brilliant - or when I look back on it now it was brilliant!” said McLeish. “It was a big picture of the world with ‘Stop the World, we want to get aff!’ written on it. Then there were a few faces which “had to go” and I was one of them. “Fortunately, we redeemed ourselves against Sweden but it was a very apprehensive game. Now, after 22 years of not being at a big tournament we would bite your hand off to do it. “Everyone would be grateful for an early exit just because it would mean that we are there at last but, in saying that, in those days and even now, you always have to be ambitious. “When we got there, we tried to get to the next stage, even if we never quite made that. Just to get to three finals in my playing days was a fantastic feeling.” Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia after a 2-2 in Slovenia Credit: PA Given that the transition from Gordon Strachan to McLeish is also a handover from one former Aberdeen player to another who was a Pittodrie team mate, it is possible to wonder if there will be discernible difference between the two regimes. “I have spoken about attention to detail,” said McLeish. “I'm not saying Gordon didn't do that but I believe that a year on - and a tournament - a lot of the lads were involved in these games and you would expect them to learn from that. What I can do is empower players. “How do you empower them? You can show things they have done well to give them the chest puffed out but you can also show them things from the past that they could have done better. These are the little details. “I am not discarding anybody at the moment. I believe there are little tweaks that can happen. A lot of them play in England at the highest level and I've seen a huge difference with a lot of the young players who are coming through in Scotland so, having moved on a season, I feel it's time to qualify for the finals of Euro 2020.” Martin Boyle celebrates scoring the opening goal for Hibernian Credit: Getty Images Two of McLeish’s former clubs met in the game of the day at Easter Road, where Hibs – whom he managed between 1998 and 2001 – hosted Aberdeen, who were bidding for a win that would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of today’s (Sun) home outing against St Johnstone. By way of contrast, Celtic’s advantage over Aberdeen on the same weekend last year was a massive 27 points from one game fewer played. Easter Road accommodated 17,205 spectators and, after a goalless first half, the home fans celebrated when Hibs netted within a minute of the restart. Jamie Maclaren had two efforts blocked by Freddie Woodman but the rebound from his second attempt was headed home by Martin Boyle. Hibs doubled their advantage om the hour when a Martin Boyle shot diverted into the path of Florian Kamberi, who found the mark from close range. Elsewhere, two late goals by Simon Murray thwarted Partick Thistle, for whom Conor Sammon had struck the opener just before half time. Kilmarnock’s fine run continued at Fir Park where Stephen O’Donnell’s strike saw the Ayrshire side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six of the Scottish Premiership table.
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Celtic's injury list for Zenit St Petersburg tie grows with Nir Bitton ruled out for season
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Celtic's injury list for Zenit St Petersburg tie grows with Nir Bitton ruled out for season
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Celtic's injury list for Zenit St Petersburg tie grows with Nir Bitton ruled out for season
Nir Bitton is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season, Brendan Rodgers revealed as he assessed Celtic’s injury-blighted squad prior to Thursday's Europa League meeting with Zenit St Petersburg at Parkhead in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. The Israeli midfielder joins a casualty list that would constitute the better part of a decent domestic team, as the Celtic manager acknowledged wryly when he said: “They could have won a treble last year!” Others out of contention are Craig Gordon, Anthony Ralston, Dedryck Boyata, Stuart Armstrong, Patrick Roberts, Johnny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths. Tom Rogic has been named in the Celtic squad but will not start and could yet be held back for the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday. Marvin Compper is ineligible. “Overall, this year has been - in terms of injuries - tough,” Rodgers said. “Nir Bitton will probably be out for the season which is a blow for us. He has an issue with his knee and probably needs an operation and that is probably him for the rest of the season. It is a shame for Nir because he has been an important member of our squad. “We are hoping some of the others will be back sooner rather than later.” Roberts, on loan from Manchester City, has gone back to his parent club to have a troublesome hamstring injury monitored. Griffiths aside, the forward areas of the team are relatively unscathed, in terms of those who could command a regular starting place, but the Hoops defence is a serious concern, especially against a Zenit side who finished the group stage as top scorers in the competition with 17 goals. Patrick Roberts has returned to Man City for treatment Credit: Reuters Beaten by Kilmarnock in a Scottish Premiership fixture at Rugby Park, Celtic recovered to win 3-2 against Partick Thistle in last weekend’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round tie but the Jags got their goals through frailty in the Hoops' back line and came very close to forcing a replay in injury time when Ryan Edwards was thwarted by an outstanding challenge by Kieran Tierney. “You are trying to map out with the players, as often as you can, that you have to be concentrated in every single game you play, but sometimes we give away soft goals purely on concentration level, nothing else,” Rodgers said. “We have shown we can defend really well and normally in the big games we do, but when you come to this level it is different. “Domestically, you can maybe assess the position and come away. At this level you have got to keep checking your space because the minute you come away from it and you don’t check they are gone. “We saw a goal against Bayern Munich like that. Our centre half checks the winger, thinks he is in good position, doesn’t check again for a few seconds and when he looks back he’s gone. Coman is in and scores. “Zenit are a very good team. If you look at how they play, they are what you would consider to be a top European team with speed, power, technique and ability. They obviously have all of that. They will expect to do very, very well in the competition having won five of their six group games to get through to this stage.” Despite superior firepower and a costlier squad than Celtic, if Zenit are at any disadvantage it is that they are coming off a prolonged spell without competitive football since a Russian Premier League fixture away to Akhmat which finished goalless on December 11. Brendan Rodgers is preparing his side for a tough Europa League tie Credit: Reuters When Celtic have been obliged to play early European qualifiers in July, it has been routine to cite the absence of competitive fixtures as a drawback when playing against opponents who are in mid-season. Rodgers, however, declined to accept that the same stricture should apply to Zenit. “The break could maybe freshen them and revitalise them and then they go again,” he said. “It just depends. We have the same experience in pre-season when you are not in top condition, but you can still be at a good level.” Of his opposite number, Roberto Mancini, Rodgers said: "Normally Italian coaches are very much set in a defensive block and their shape is hard to break down. Roberto is a bit more aggressive. Zenit play 4-3-3 and press the game higher at times.” In the absence of so many experienced performers, it would be a significant bonus for Celtic if Moussa Dembele could rediscover his exciting early-season form. James Forrest, on recent form, has the capacity to trouble Mancini’s side but, even in Europe’s secondary tournament, the task facing Celtic remains one that induces a degree of pessimism, even allowing for the legendary backing of the home crowd. Probably line-ups Celtic (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Gamboa, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Sinclair; Dembele. Zenit St Petersburg (4-3-3): Lodigin; Criscito, Mevlja, Ivanovic, Smolnikov; Kranevitter, Noboa, Yerokhin; Poloz, Kokorin, Rigoni.
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller appropriately commemorated by James Forrest in Celtic win
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller appropriately commemorated by James Forrest in Celtic win
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
Liam Miller appropriately commemorated by James Forrest in Celtic win
Liam Miller’s untimely death was felt with particular poignancy on Saturday at Celtic Park, where he began his career as a youth player in 1997, before making his debut against Dundee United three years later in Kenny Dalglish’s last game in charge. Martin O’Neill, the next Celtic manager, was so impressed by the youngster’s skills that he offered Miller a four-year contract and proposed to refashion the team around him. Miller declined, moving to Old Trafford when his contract expired in July 2004 but, against expectations, he could not secure a first team place under Alex Ferguson and his career after Manchester United became peripatetic and he moved on to Sunderland, Queen’s Park Rangers and Hibernian before spells in Australia and the USA, where he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in November. Miller’s passing on Friday was commemorated by an immaculately observed minute’s silence before kick-off at Celtic’s home tie with Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. “You saw from the response that Liam was held in affection here and that reflected the fact that he came through the ranks,” said Tom Boyd, the former Celtic captain, who played alongside Miller. “It took him a little while to get into the team because the midfield was full of quality international players at the time, but when he did step up he made a massive impact. We always have a certain respect at Celtic for players who come up from youth level and it seems appropriate that our goals on Saturday were all scored by James Forrest, who progressed through the same route.” Forrest, in fact, joined Celtic’s academy while Miller was still with the club and, if his initial progress was less spectacular than that of the Republic of Ireland international, the winger is now enjoying his most productive season with his best ever goals total – now at 16 and likely to rise by several more, if current form is a reliable guide. His plunder was aided by woeful defending by Partick, who were behind within two minutes when Forrest converted the rebound from a Moussa Dembele shot which came off Danny Devine. Celtic's players join together before the game Credit: PA Forrest was granted the freedom of the entire Thistle half for a run and shot in the 10th minute and completed his first ever hat-trick eight minutes after the break when he finished a left-wing combination which linked Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair. The Jags, though had been given hope when Jozo Simunovic carelessly handed possession to Kris Doolan for a delightful chip over Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal. Doolan, too, was etching himself into the record books. The goal crowned his 350th appearance for Thistle before he made way on the hour for Conor Sammon. The replacement kept the issue in doubt by netting Thistle’s second in the 83rd minute and the visitors almost forced a draw in injury time, when Tierney and De Vries between them just managed to thwart Ryan Edwards on the goal line. “It was a great cross from Chris Erskine and I looked up and thought I was going to score,” said Edwards. “Kieran Tierney blocked it – he did ever so well because I was in front of him. “It was one of those where you see the ball hit the net before you connect. It was coming right to my foot and Tierney did ever so well and then the keeper just picked it up. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a replay.” If Thistle were disappointed at being caught cold by Forrest’s first two goals – especially since they had discussed the need for a disciplined start – they can take consolation for the fight against relegation from their spirited finish, a notable contrast with early season form that saw them damaged repeatedly by late goals. Forrest (left) celebrates after completing his hat-trick Credit: PA Asked if increased stamina now played a part, Edwards said: “Maybe – the fitness thing could be mentality and with players coming back from injury there is greater competition for places. It’s a positive environment to be in.” The possibility of yet another Thistle revival in the second half of the season has been revived by recent form. “I hope so,” Edwards said. “This is my third season and it’s happening again. “We don’t seem to start great but then it comes January and we seem to turn it around. I don’t know why that is. We don’t want to be in that position and it’s not planned. We’ve had good league results and we want to keep progressing. We have three massive games coming up starting next week against Dundee.” Celtic, of course, are engaged on a greatly contrasting itinerary, with the defence of their domestic treble and the possibility of progress in the Europa League. Zenit, though, are equipped with much more potent firepower than Partick, a strength that will require concomitant concentration by the Hoops defenders, if they are to keep the Russian side at bay. It was a long game, hectic too,” said Kris Ajer, Celtic’s Norwegian central defender. “Thistle pressed us well throughout the whole game. Even when we went up 2-0 they did really well to come back and never gave us a second on the ball.” That, it need hardly be overstated, is a factor that cannot escape Zenit’s attention ahead of what promises to be another fascinating, but tense, European evening at Parkead.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
Brendan Rodgers reminds Celtic to beware the strength of Zenit St Petersberg
As Celtic seek their first European home win outside qualifying matches under Brendan Rodgers, their manager warned that Zenit St Petersburg are a stronger team than Anderlecht, who were edged out by his men for a place in the Europa League. The tournament sees Zenit – managed by Roberto Mancini who was formerly in charge of Manchester City – come to the east end of Glasgow on Thursday. Rodgers has guided Celtic to successive Champions League group stage appearances and also into the knockout stage of this season’s Europa League, but they have been unable to post a home win in six attempts against Barcelona, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Their best group stage performance was the 3-0 victory over Anderlecht in Brussels, but Rodgers’ players lost the subsequent encounter at Parkhead to a Jozo Simunovic own goal. Against Zenit, Rodgers would have preferred to play the first leg in Russia. “Everyone likes the second leg at home. You know what you are playing for then,” said Rodgers. “It’s not the worst to have the first leg at home. You can try to get some sort of advantage. If you can keep a clean sheet, it gives you a real motivation going away. Brendan Rodgers is excited by the challenge his Celtic team will face in the Europa Cup Credit: Getty Images “I have looked at Zenit, and they play slightly differently from Manchester City. At Manchester City, Roberto had very much a defensive block with quality players. “It was 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2 at times. This team is very clearly 4-3-3. They press the game. It is certainly a change from how his Man City team played. “Branislav Ivanovic is there, who I worked with at Chelsea. He has gone back out there and is a real linchpin for the team. He has still got good legs and strength and power and experience. “He is playing as a centre-half. That was his actual position when they brought him in to Chelsea. He ended up playing a lot at right-back and doing really well there. It is a really difficult game for us. They are a very good side.” In other circumstances, Rodgers’ CV would have included a spell as Mancini’s No 2. “Roberto had his first season at Manchester City, and I was asked to come and speak to them about maybe going in there to assist and work,” he said. “I flew out to Italy to meet him at the end of the season. We had a chat out there, then I came back, and it was a case of the Swansea position coming up, and I think Roberto was probably wanting his own man in as well. It worked out that I went to Swansea and Roberto had David Platt, whom he knew from Sampdoria.” Celtic extended the defence of their treble of domestic honours with a home victory over Partick Thistle in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup yesterday. In contrast to their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park the previous weekend, they got off to a racing start with a James Forrest double, the second of which saw the winger run from the halfway line for a right-foot finish beyond goalkeeper Tomas Cerny. Kyle Lafferty celebrated scoring a brace for Hearts 3-0 win over St Johnstone Credit: PA The Jags looked beaten but were revived when Simunovic played an attempted a pass back to Dorus de Vries straight into the path of Kris Doolan, who marked his 350th appearance for Thistle with a first-time left-foot chip over De Vries. When Forrest netted his hat-trick after the break, Celtic looked safe, but Connor Sammon revived Thistle’s hopes with a late close-range strike, and it took a tackle by Kieran Tierney and a clutch on the line by De Vries to prevent Ryan Edwards stealing a draw in injury time. Also into the quarter-finals are Hearts, whose 3-0 home win over St Johnstone included a Kyle Lafferty brace, and Kilmarnock, who ended Brora Rangers’ progress with a 4-0 win over at Rugby Park. The other Highland League team, Cove Rangers, were beaten 3-1 at home by Falkirk, while in the all-Premiership collision at Dens Park, Dundee lost 2-0 to Motherwell. The remaining tie of the day was at Cappielow, where Morton prevailed against their trans-Clyde rivals, Dumbarton, with goals from Frank Ross, Jack Iredale and Bob McHugh. Today’s games see Ayr United at home to Rangers and Aberdeen against Dundee United at Pittodrie, where the quarter-final draw will be made.
The former Celtic, Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Miller has died at the age of 36 from pancreatic cancer. Miller's family and friends announced in November that he was suffering from the disease and he that he had had treatment in the United States before flying home to Ireland for chemotherapy. The father of three, who made 21 appearances for the national side, began his career with Celtic before Sir Alex Ferguson took the Republic of Ireland international to Manchester United in 2004. Miller spent two years at Old Trafford with six months on loan at Leeds before a three-year spell at Sunderland. After moves to QPR and Hibernian, Miller spent four years in the Australian A-League before signing for American third tier side Wilmington Hammerheads in 2015. His old friend Tam McManus broke the news and his former clubs and team-mates united to pay tribute: I’m afraid it is true that Liam Miller has sadly passed away today. Thoughts are with all his family and friends at this horrendous time. So sad.— Tam McManus (@The_Tman10) February 9, 2018 Everyone at #CelticFC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time. RIP Liam, YNWA. pic.twitter.com/vMkT1CtJ2m— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) February 9, 2018 Everyone at Leeds United are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former #LUFC midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts are with his family and friends pic.twitter.com/4rtm5yOL1v— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 9, 2018 We are saddened to hear this evening that former #SAFC midfielder Liam Miller has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/MQqL3x2acN— Sunderland AFC ��⚪ (@SunderlandAFC) February 9, 2018 We are incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of former Hibernian midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/XWURtc72M3— Hibernian FC (@HibsOfficial) February 9, 2018 RIP Liam Miller. Devastating news. Great player but more importantly fantastic person. So sad. Thoughts with his family.— Danny Higginbotham (@Higginbotham05) February 9, 2018 RIP Liam Miller. Was lucky enough to room with Liam on a few international trips.. top player and a great person. Thoughts and prayers with his loved ones. ����— STEVEN REID (@stevenreid12) February 9, 2018 Celtic and Manchester United have also paid to their former midfielder. Celtic, whose players will wear black armbands in Miller's memory during their William Hill Scottish Cup match against Partick Thistle on Saturday, tweeted: "Everyone at £CelticFC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time. RIP Liam, YNWA." In 2004 Miller joined United for a two-year spell and the Old Trafford club expressed their sympathy on Saturday morning. A tweet read: "Manchester United is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of our former midfielder Liam Miller. We extend our condolences to his loved ones at this extremely difficult time."
Liam Miller, former Celtic, Manchester United and Ireland midfielder, dies aged 36 after long battle with cancer
The former Celtic, Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Miller has died at the age of 36 from pancreatic cancer. Miller's family and friends announced in November that he was suffering from the disease and he that he had had treatment in the United States before flying home to Ireland for chemotherapy. The father of three, who made 21 appearances for the national side, began his career with Celtic before Sir Alex Ferguson took the Republic of Ireland international to Manchester United in 2004. Miller spent two years at Old Trafford with six months on loan at Leeds before a three-year spell at Sunderland. After moves to QPR and Hibernian, Miller spent four years in the Australian A-League before signing for American third tier side Wilmington Hammerheads in 2015. His old friend Tam McManus broke the news and his former clubs and team-mates united to pay tribute: I’m afraid it is true that Liam Miller has sadly passed away today. Thoughts are with all his family and friends at this horrendous time. So sad.— Tam McManus (@The_Tman10) February 9, 2018 Everyone at #CelticFC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time. RIP Liam, YNWA. pic.twitter.com/vMkT1CtJ2m— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) February 9, 2018 Everyone at Leeds United are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former #LUFC midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts are with his family and friends pic.twitter.com/4rtm5yOL1v— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 9, 2018 We are saddened to hear this evening that former #SAFC midfielder Liam Miller has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/MQqL3x2acN— Sunderland AFC ��⚪ (@SunderlandAFC) February 9, 2018 We are incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of former Hibernian midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/XWURtc72M3— Hibernian FC (@HibsOfficial) February 9, 2018 RIP Liam Miller. Devastating news. Great player but more importantly fantastic person. So sad. Thoughts with his family.— Danny Higginbotham (@Higginbotham05) February 9, 2018 RIP Liam Miller. Was lucky enough to room with Liam on a few international trips.. top player and a great person. Thoughts and prayers with his loved ones. ����— STEVEN REID (@stevenreid12) February 9, 2018 Celtic and Manchester United have also paid to their former midfielder. Celtic, whose players will wear black armbands in Miller's memory during their William Hill Scottish Cup match against Partick Thistle on Saturday, tweeted: "Everyone at £CelticFC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former midfielder Liam Miller. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time. RIP Liam, YNWA." In 2004 Miller joined United for a two-year spell and the Old Trafford club expressed their sympathy on Saturday morning. A tweet read: "Manchester United is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of our former midfielder Liam Miller. We extend our condolences to his loved ones at this extremely difficult time."
The Jags have gone over a decade without getting one over on their city rivals and will be looking to spring a Scottish 'cupset'
Celtic vs Partick Thistle: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
The Jags have gone over a decade without getting one over on their city rivals and will be looking to spring a Scottish 'cupset'
The Jags have gone over a decade without getting one over on their city rivals and will be looking to spring a Scottish 'cupset'
Celtic vs Partick Thistle: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
The Jags have gone over a decade without getting one over on their city rivals and will be looking to spring a Scottish 'cupset'
The Jags have gone over a decade without getting one over on their city rivals and will be looking to spring a Scottish 'cupset'
Celtic vs Partick Thistle: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
The Jags have gone over a decade without getting one over on their city rivals and will be looking to spring a Scottish 'cupset'
Craig Levein was accused by Brendan Rodgers of having an obsession about Scott Brown, after the Hearts manager returned once again to the subject of Celtic’s captain and his combative style of play. Levein had previously voiced concern about a challenge by Brown on Harry Cochrane, which put the 16-year-old Hearts midfielder out of the game with a collarbone injury before half-time in Celtic’s 3-1 victory at Parkhead on January 30. Rodgers retorted that the decision to field the teenager in such a high-intensity game was questionable, although Cochrane had scored in Hearts’ 4-0 win over the champions at Tynecastle in December. Celtic lost their second domestic match under Rodgers on Saturday at Kilmarnock, with Brown booked in the 73rd minute, prompting him to say afterwards, in reference to Levein: “He has done his job, hasn’t he? I was booked with my first foul and that is exactly what Craig was looking to do.” Levein, however, postulated the theory that Brown had deliberately drawn a yellow card to manipulate the disciplinary process ahead of the Old Firm derby at Ibrox on March 11. “If Scott didn’t get booked against Kilmarnock and got booked against St Johnstone [on 18 February] then he’d miss the Rangers game,” Levein said. The former Scotland boss added: “I’m not trying to irritate anybody. I’m just pointing stuff out. Scott Brown mentioned last week that he got booked because of me bringing to attention his proclivity to foul people. I disagree with that. “I’m just pointing out things that are obvious. I think you’ll find that his intentions were always to get himself booked in that game so he didn’t miss the Rangers match. “That sort of things happens all the time. Anybody who is sensible would look at the situation if there is a particular game they want to play in and know they need to get booked to miss a game prior to that. I did it myself when I was playing, so it happens. I don’t know Scott’s intentions, but I’m just pointing out the fact. That’s all.” Levein’s comments evoked scorn from Rodgers, who said: “He is obviously fairly obsessed by our captain. It is a credit to Scott that you’ve got another manager, who is not even playing against him, talking about him. “If that is what has been said – and I haven’t seen it yet, so I have to see it – then he might have something to answer on that.” Whether or not that was a hint to the Scottish Football Association to consider a disrepute charge against Levein is a moot point, but the long-distance exchanges might not yet have run their course. In the meantime, Celtic will attempt to expunge the memory of last weekend’s anaemic display at Rugby Park by defending one of the three trophies in their possession when they meet Partick Thistle at home in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round on Saturday. Rodgers expressed gratitude for the rare absence of a midweek fixture. “It’s been brilliant. It was good, obviously, after the game to give the players two days off and then we were back in working,” he said. “We’ve had a great week’s training and been able to do some work which is very important. We’re now looking forward to the schedule ahead.” There was mixed news, meanwhile, about the lengthy casualty list at Parkhead. “It’s just unfortunate,” Rodgers said. “Kris Ajer should be fine, but he hurt his Achilles last week which was the same injury Nir Bitton had earlier on in the season on that surface [Rugby Park], where you can land awkwardly and it just disrupts you. “The squad is starting to piece itself back together even though we still have some injuries. We have players starting to return and hopefully that will make us really strong for the last part of the season. “We try to not cry about it or moan about it, but certainly it is a factor and it doesn’t help when there is constant change in certain areas of the field.”
Brendan Rodgers accuses Craig Levein of being 'fairly obsessed' about Scott Brown
Craig Levein was accused by Brendan Rodgers of having an obsession about Scott Brown, after the Hearts manager returned once again to the subject of Celtic’s captain and his combative style of play. Levein had previously voiced concern about a challenge by Brown on Harry Cochrane, which put the 16-year-old Hearts midfielder out of the game with a collarbone injury before half-time in Celtic’s 3-1 victory at Parkhead on January 30. Rodgers retorted that the decision to field the teenager in such a high-intensity game was questionable, although Cochrane had scored in Hearts’ 4-0 win over the champions at Tynecastle in December. Celtic lost their second domestic match under Rodgers on Saturday at Kilmarnock, with Brown booked in the 73rd minute, prompting him to say afterwards, in reference to Levein: “He has done his job, hasn’t he? I was booked with my first foul and that is exactly what Craig was looking to do.” Levein, however, postulated the theory that Brown had deliberately drawn a yellow card to manipulate the disciplinary process ahead of the Old Firm derby at Ibrox on March 11. “If Scott didn’t get booked against Kilmarnock and got booked against St Johnstone [on 18 February] then he’d miss the Rangers game,” Levein said. The former Scotland boss added: “I’m not trying to irritate anybody. I’m just pointing stuff out. Scott Brown mentioned last week that he got booked because of me bringing to attention his proclivity to foul people. I disagree with that. “I’m just pointing out things that are obvious. I think you’ll find that his intentions were always to get himself booked in that game so he didn’t miss the Rangers match. “That sort of things happens all the time. Anybody who is sensible would look at the situation if there is a particular game they want to play in and know they need to get booked to miss a game prior to that. I did it myself when I was playing, so it happens. I don’t know Scott’s intentions, but I’m just pointing out the fact. That’s all.” Levein’s comments evoked scorn from Rodgers, who said: “He is obviously fairly obsessed by our captain. It is a credit to Scott that you’ve got another manager, who is not even playing against him, talking about him. “If that is what has been said – and I haven’t seen it yet, so I have to see it – then he might have something to answer on that.” Whether or not that was a hint to the Scottish Football Association to consider a disrepute charge against Levein is a moot point, but the long-distance exchanges might not yet have run their course. In the meantime, Celtic will attempt to expunge the memory of last weekend’s anaemic display at Rugby Park by defending one of the three trophies in their possession when they meet Partick Thistle at home in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round on Saturday. Rodgers expressed gratitude for the rare absence of a midweek fixture. “It’s been brilliant. It was good, obviously, after the game to give the players two days off and then we were back in working,” he said. “We’ve had a great week’s training and been able to do some work which is very important. We’re now looking forward to the schedule ahead.” There was mixed news, meanwhile, about the lengthy casualty list at Parkhead. “It’s just unfortunate,” Rodgers said. “Kris Ajer should be fine, but he hurt his Achilles last week which was the same injury Nir Bitton had earlier on in the season on that surface [Rugby Park], where you can land awkwardly and it just disrupts you. “The squad is starting to piece itself back together even though we still have some injuries. We have players starting to return and hopefully that will make us really strong for the last part of the season. “We try to not cry about it or moan about it, but certainly it is a factor and it doesn’t help when there is constant change in certain areas of the field.”
Steve Clarke has already played down speculation linking him with the vacant position of Scotland manager but his lustre will be enhanced by Kilmarnock’s unexpected success against Celtic on Saturday, winning 1-0 at Rugby Park, where Youssouf Mulumbu scored the only goal. The Ayrshire side remain closer to the relegation zone than the higher reaches of the Scottish Premiership but their weekend win saw them into the top half of the division. That prospect looked remote during Lee McCulloch’s spell in charge earlier in the season, when Killie lost 5-0 to Celtic at Parkhead in the Betfred Scottish League Cup and 2-0 at home in the league, but under Clarke they have now drawn with Celtic and Rangers in Glasgow and beaten both Old Firm teams at Rugby Park. Clarke had been away from Scottish football for 30 years prior to the return to his native Ayrshire and in his 11 years as a Chelsea defender he won FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup medals as well as making six appearances for Scotland. Coaching and management experience followed at Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool, West Brom, Reading and Aston Villa, so it would be no surprise if the Scottish Football Association should take more than a passing interest in the 54-year-old. Not that the possibility is welcome amongst the Kilmarnock players. “If it happens, he does have credentials,” said Jamie MacDonald. The goalkeeper added: “It’s been a long time since Scotland’s been to an international tournament and that’s something we hope will be addressed in the coming years, but for purely selfish reasons I hope he’s here in the long run.’’ Pressed to identify how Clarke has transformed Kilmarnock’s fortunes, MacDonald said: “Everybody asks this and I don’t think anybody can give you a proper answer. He just makes everything so simple in terms of knowing what you’re doing. “Football’s not a difficult game as such. It’s us players who seem to make it more difficult. We worked on our shape all week, what we were going to do to combat Celtic, what we would do when we got the ball back – little simple things – but he doesn’t overdo it. Football players only need to take in little bits at a time, to be honest.” The occasion was one of singularities. Kilmarnock had not beaten Celtic since October 2012 and Mulumba – who was the subject of a transfer bid from Bordeaux last week – had not scored since March 15, 2014, when he was on target for West Brom in a 2-1 win at Swansea. “It was a great ball from Jordan Jones and Youssuf found a bit of space,” said MacDonald. “It was a composed finish as well, especially taking it first time on the astro, because it can sometimes check up a little bit. You can tell the quality he has – although the boys are having a bit of a joke, saying he only turns up for the TV games.” Celtic, it must be said, could have cited exculpatory reasons for what was only their second domestic defeat during Brendan Rodgers’ 20 months in charge. The early loss to injury of two of their three starting central defenders – Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer – plus the inhibiting tendencies of Rugby Park’s much-used artificial 3G pitch were undoubtedly disruptive, but it is a measure of the mindset instilled by Rodgers that Celtic declined to use those factors to excuse a performance which was their poorest against domestic opposition under his supervision. Celtic had 69% of possession but it took them until the 87th minute to force the first of two corner kicks. Their single shot on target did not arrive until the 90th minute when Olivier Ntcham’s free-kick was blocked by MacDonald. Had Jones, Malumba and Kirk Broadfoot taken all of the clear chances that came their way Celtic would have sustained a setback on the scale of the 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle in December which ended their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures after 69 outings. On that occasion, though, the champions had four attempts on target and were ahead on the corner-kick count by full time. “We did create more in the Hearts game,” said James Forrest, the Celtic winger. “We know as a team that it wasn’t good enough on Saturday and we just have to rectify that next week against Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup. “Then the game after that is the Europa League against Zenit St Petersburg so we know we have to try to turn it around. We do play a lot of games but the manager does change it to help the boys get a rest. We have a strong squad and we will be able to cope with that.”
Steve Clarke again linked with Scotland job after Kilmarnock beat Celtic
Steve Clarke has already played down speculation linking him with the vacant position of Scotland manager but his lustre will be enhanced by Kilmarnock’s unexpected success against Celtic on Saturday, winning 1-0 at Rugby Park, where Youssouf Mulumbu scored the only goal. The Ayrshire side remain closer to the relegation zone than the higher reaches of the Scottish Premiership but their weekend win saw them into the top half of the division. That prospect looked remote during Lee McCulloch’s spell in charge earlier in the season, when Killie lost 5-0 to Celtic at Parkhead in the Betfred Scottish League Cup and 2-0 at home in the league, but under Clarke they have now drawn with Celtic and Rangers in Glasgow and beaten both Old Firm teams at Rugby Park. Clarke had been away from Scottish football for 30 years prior to the return to his native Ayrshire and in his 11 years as a Chelsea defender he won FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup medals as well as making six appearances for Scotland. Coaching and management experience followed at Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool, West Brom, Reading and Aston Villa, so it would be no surprise if the Scottish Football Association should take more than a passing interest in the 54-year-old. Not that the possibility is welcome amongst the Kilmarnock players. “If it happens, he does have credentials,” said Jamie MacDonald. The goalkeeper added: “It’s been a long time since Scotland’s been to an international tournament and that’s something we hope will be addressed in the coming years, but for purely selfish reasons I hope he’s here in the long run.’’ Pressed to identify how Clarke has transformed Kilmarnock’s fortunes, MacDonald said: “Everybody asks this and I don’t think anybody can give you a proper answer. He just makes everything so simple in terms of knowing what you’re doing. “Football’s not a difficult game as such. It’s us players who seem to make it more difficult. We worked on our shape all week, what we were going to do to combat Celtic, what we would do when we got the ball back – little simple things – but he doesn’t overdo it. Football players only need to take in little bits at a time, to be honest.” The occasion was one of singularities. Kilmarnock had not beaten Celtic since October 2012 and Mulumba – who was the subject of a transfer bid from Bordeaux last week – had not scored since March 15, 2014, when he was on target for West Brom in a 2-1 win at Swansea. “It was a great ball from Jordan Jones and Youssuf found a bit of space,” said MacDonald. “It was a composed finish as well, especially taking it first time on the astro, because it can sometimes check up a little bit. You can tell the quality he has – although the boys are having a bit of a joke, saying he only turns up for the TV games.” Celtic, it must be said, could have cited exculpatory reasons for what was only their second domestic defeat during Brendan Rodgers’ 20 months in charge. The early loss to injury of two of their three starting central defenders – Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer – plus the inhibiting tendencies of Rugby Park’s much-used artificial 3G pitch were undoubtedly disruptive, but it is a measure of the mindset instilled by Rodgers that Celtic declined to use those factors to excuse a performance which was their poorest against domestic opposition under his supervision. Celtic had 69% of possession but it took them until the 87th minute to force the first of two corner kicks. Their single shot on target did not arrive until the 90th minute when Olivier Ntcham’s free-kick was blocked by MacDonald. Had Jones, Malumba and Kirk Broadfoot taken all of the clear chances that came their way Celtic would have sustained a setback on the scale of the 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle in December which ended their run of successive unbeaten domestic fixtures after 69 outings. On that occasion, though, the champions had four attempts on target and were ahead on the corner-kick count by full time. “We did create more in the Hearts game,” said James Forrest, the Celtic winger. “We know as a team that it wasn’t good enough on Saturday and we just have to rectify that next week against Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup. “Then the game after that is the Europa League against Zenit St Petersburg so we know we have to try to turn it around. We do play a lot of games but the manager does change it to help the boys get a rest. We have a strong squad and we will be able to cope with that.”
Celtic's striker Leigh Griffiths, pictured in October 2017, fired home a 70th minute winner against Partick Thistle (AFP Photo/ANDY BUCHANAN )
Celtic's striker Leigh Griffiths, pictured in October 2017, fired home a 70th minute winner against Partick Thistle
Celtic's striker Leigh Griffiths, pictured in October 2017, fired home a 70th minute winner against Partick Thistle (AFP Photo/ANDY BUCHANAN )
Celtic's striker Leigh Griffiths, pictured in October 2017, fired home a 70th minute winner against Partick Thistle
Celtic's striker Leigh Griffiths, pictured in October 2017, fired home a 70th minute winner against Partick Thistle
Celtic's striker Leigh Griffiths, pictured in October 2017, fired home a 70th minute winner against Partick Thistle
Celtic posted a double-figure points lead over Aberdeen – whose game in hand is at home to Partick Thistle tomorrow – with this comfortable victory over Dundee at Dens Park and goals from James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths on an afternoon that would have been significantly more damaging for the home team had the champions taken their chances during an early period of overwhelming domination. Since losing their long unbeaten record under Brendan Rodgers to Hearts at Tynecastle, Celtic have posted three successive wins, as the manager rotates his squad. For this fixture, Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench and Scott Sinclair was granted an afternoon’s rest against a Dundee side unchanged from their 1-1 weekend draw with Motherwell. Dembele was the subject of reports which claimed him to be a January target for Brighton but Rodgers remarked of the speculation about the French striker that there was “nothing at all” in it, although, when asked if the player would still be a Celtic employee by the end of next month, added: “I can’t say that.” What could be stated without contradiction by the midway stage of the contest was that the first half must have seemed close to interminable for Dundee. By the quarter-hour mark Celtic had a near monopoly of possession – no less than 85 per cent, in fact – and their relentless pressing game had seen them take the lead when a typically dangerous thrust and cutback from Kieran Tierney set Forrest up for a simple strike to take his striking total for the club to 50 goals. Even before the opener, Callum McGregor had rifled a shot off the post and Celtic’s unremitting pressure saw them produce 13 attempts on and off the target by the break, compared to Dundee’s grand total of zero. The surprise by that stage of the proceedings was that Celtic were only 2-0 to the good and that their second goal arrived as late as the 42nd minute when Olivier Ntcham provided a pass for Griffiths, so well judged that the striker did not have to break stride before placing his finish low behind Elliot Parish. James Forrest, who stood out for Celtic in this win, scores his goal Credit: Getty Images Celtic’s momentum had perhaps been disrupted by the seven-minute stoppage required when Hayes and Meekings went into a full-blooded challenge which left both players writhing on the turf. Meekings was able to limp from the field, to be replaced by Darren O’Dea, but Hayes – who scored his first Celtic goal in Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Aberdeen – had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle, with Michael Johnston taking his place. The 18-year-old winger thought he had added to Celtic’s advantage in first-half injury time but his close-range attempt was blocked by Parish and the goalkeeper was promptly required to deal with a powerful effort from Forrest by tipping it over the top. Forrest was Celtic’s outstanding performer and displayed a channelled energy which seemed beyond his capability in his younger days. Celtic’s superiority extended to maintaining their position while dropping down through the gears in the second half, with Saturday’s meeting with Rangers in mind. The drop in tempo and intensity allowed Dundee – for whom Jack Lambert and Matty Henvey made debuts as substitutes – to salvage a degree of self-respect with a spell of late pressure but their overall menace amounted only to one fierce drive from Paul McGowan, which swooped just over the crossbar, plus a drive from distance by Cammy Kerr that was taken comfortably by Craig Gordon, who was probably glad of the exercise. Match details Dundee (4-4-2): Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, McGowan, Kamara, El-Bakhtaoui (Lambert 62); Moussa, Leitch-Smith (Henvey 79). Subs: Ferrie (g), Holt, Waddell, Curran. Booked: Moussa. Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham (Armstrong 66), Brown; Hayes (Johnston 26), McGregor, Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 77). Subs: De Vries (g), Bitton, Simunovic, Edouard. Booked: Boyata, Brown. Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Dundee 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths goals move Celtic 11 points clear
Celtic posted a double-figure points lead over Aberdeen – whose game in hand is at home to Partick Thistle tomorrow – with this comfortable victory over Dundee at Dens Park and goals from James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths on an afternoon that would have been significantly more damaging for the home team had the champions taken their chances during an early period of overwhelming domination. Since losing their long unbeaten record under Brendan Rodgers to Hearts at Tynecastle, Celtic have posted three successive wins, as the manager rotates his squad. For this fixture, Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench and Scott Sinclair was granted an afternoon’s rest against a Dundee side unchanged from their 1-1 weekend draw with Motherwell. Dembele was the subject of reports which claimed him to be a January target for Brighton but Rodgers remarked of the speculation about the French striker that there was “nothing at all” in it, although, when asked if the player would still be a Celtic employee by the end of next month, added: “I can’t say that.” What could be stated without contradiction by the midway stage of the contest was that the first half must have seemed close to interminable for Dundee. By the quarter-hour mark Celtic had a near monopoly of possession – no less than 85 per cent, in fact – and their relentless pressing game had seen them take the lead when a typically dangerous thrust and cutback from Kieran Tierney set Forrest up for a simple strike to take his striking total for the club to 50 goals. Even before the opener, Callum McGregor had rifled a shot off the post and Celtic’s unremitting pressure saw them produce 13 attempts on and off the target by the break, compared to Dundee’s grand total of zero. The surprise by that stage of the proceedings was that Celtic were only 2-0 to the good and that their second goal arrived as late as the 42nd minute when Olivier Ntcham provided a pass for Griffiths, so well judged that the striker did not have to break stride before placing his finish low behind Elliot Parish. James Forrest, who stood out for Celtic in this win, scores his goal Credit: Getty Images Celtic’s momentum had perhaps been disrupted by the seven-minute stoppage required when Hayes and Meekings went into a full-blooded challenge which left both players writhing on the turf. Meekings was able to limp from the field, to be replaced by Darren O’Dea, but Hayes – who scored his first Celtic goal in Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Aberdeen – had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle, with Michael Johnston taking his place. The 18-year-old winger thought he had added to Celtic’s advantage in first-half injury time but his close-range attempt was blocked by Parish and the goalkeeper was promptly required to deal with a powerful effort from Forrest by tipping it over the top. Forrest was Celtic’s outstanding performer and displayed a channelled energy which seemed beyond his capability in his younger days. Celtic’s superiority extended to maintaining their position while dropping down through the gears in the second half, with Saturday’s meeting with Rangers in mind. The drop in tempo and intensity allowed Dundee – for whom Jack Lambert and Matty Henvey made debuts as substitutes – to salvage a degree of self-respect with a spell of late pressure but their overall menace amounted only to one fierce drive from Paul McGowan, which swooped just over the crossbar, plus a drive from distance by Cammy Kerr that was taken comfortably by Craig Gordon, who was probably glad of the exercise. Match details Dundee (4-4-2): Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, McGowan, Kamara, El-Bakhtaoui (Lambert 62); Moussa, Leitch-Smith (Henvey 79). Subs: Ferrie (g), Holt, Waddell, Curran. Booked: Moussa. Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham (Armstrong 66), Brown; Hayes (Johnston 26), McGregor, Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 77). Subs: De Vries (g), Bitton, Simunovic, Edouard. Booked: Boyata, Brown. Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Celtic posted a double-figure points lead over Aberdeen – whose game in hand is at home to Partick Thistle tomorrow – with this comfortable victory over Dundee at Dens Park and goals from James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths on an afternoon that would have been significantly more damaging for the home team had the champions taken their chances during an early period of overwhelming domination. Since losing their long unbeaten record under Brendan Rodgers to Hearts at Tynecastle, Celtic have posted three successive wins, as the manager rotates his squad. For this fixture, Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench and Scott Sinclair was granted an afternoon’s rest against a Dundee side unchanged from their 1-1 weekend draw with Motherwell. Dembele was the subject of reports which claimed him to be a January target for Brighton but Rodgers remarked of the speculation about the French striker that there was “nothing at all” in it, although, when asked if the player would still be a Celtic employee by the end of next month, added: “I can’t say that.” What could be stated without contradiction by the midway stage of the contest was that the first half must have seemed close to interminable for Dundee. By the quarter-hour mark Celtic had a near monopoly of possession – no less than 85 per cent, in fact – and their relentless pressing game had seen them take the lead when a typically dangerous thrust and cutback from Kieran Tierney set Forrest up for a simple strike to take his striking total for the club to 50 goals. Even before the opener, Callum McGregor had rifled a shot off the post and Celtic’s unremitting pressure saw them produce 13 attempts on and off the target by the break, compared to Dundee’s grand total of zero. The surprise by that stage of the proceedings was that Celtic were only 2-0 to the good and that their second goal arrived as late as the 42nd minute when Olivier Ntcham provided a pass for Griffiths, so well judged that the striker did not have to break stride before placing his finish low behind Elliot Parish. James Forrest, who stood out for Celtic in this win, scores his goal Credit: Getty Images Celtic’s momentum had perhaps been disrupted by the seven-minute stoppage required when Hayes and Meekings went into a full-blooded challenge which left both players writhing on the turf. Meekings was able to limp from the field, to be replaced by Darren O’Dea, but Hayes – who scored his first Celtic goal in Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Aberdeen – had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle, with Michael Johnston taking his place. The 18-year-old winger thought he had added to Celtic’s advantage in first-half injury time but his close-range attempt was blocked by Parish and the goalkeeper was promptly required to deal with a powerful effort from Forrest by tipping it over the top. Forrest was Celtic’s outstanding performer and displayed a channelled energy which seemed beyond his capability in his younger days. Celtic’s superiority extended to maintaining their position while dropping down through the gears in the second half, with Saturday’s meeting with Rangers in mind. The drop in tempo and intensity allowed Dundee – for whom Jack Lambert and Matty Henvey made debuts as substitutes – to salvage a degree of self-respect with a spell of late pressure but their overall menace amounted only to one fierce drive from Paul McGowan, which swooped just over the crossbar, plus a drive from distance by Cammy Kerr that was taken comfortably by Craig Gordon, who was probably glad of the exercise. Match details Dundee (4-4-2): Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, McGowan, Kamara, El-Bakhtaoui (Lambert 62); Moussa, Leitch-Smith (Henvey 79). Subs: Ferrie (g), Holt, Waddell, Curran. Booked: Moussa. Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham (Armstrong 66), Brown; Hayes (Johnston 26), McGregor, Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 77). Subs: De Vries (g), Bitton, Simunovic, Edouard. Booked: Boyata, Brown. Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Dundee 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths goals move Celtic 11 points clear
Celtic posted a double-figure points lead over Aberdeen – whose game in hand is at home to Partick Thistle tomorrow – with this comfortable victory over Dundee at Dens Park and goals from James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths on an afternoon that would have been significantly more damaging for the home team had the champions taken their chances during an early period of overwhelming domination. Since losing their long unbeaten record under Brendan Rodgers to Hearts at Tynecastle, Celtic have posted three successive wins, as the manager rotates his squad. For this fixture, Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench and Scott Sinclair was granted an afternoon’s rest against a Dundee side unchanged from their 1-1 weekend draw with Motherwell. Dembele was the subject of reports which claimed him to be a January target for Brighton but Rodgers remarked of the speculation about the French striker that there was “nothing at all” in it, although, when asked if the player would still be a Celtic employee by the end of next month, added: “I can’t say that.” What could be stated without contradiction by the midway stage of the contest was that the first half must have seemed close to interminable for Dundee. By the quarter-hour mark Celtic had a near monopoly of possession – no less than 85 per cent, in fact – and their relentless pressing game had seen them take the lead when a typically dangerous thrust and cutback from Kieran Tierney set Forrest up for a simple strike to take his striking total for the club to 50 goals. Even before the opener, Callum McGregor had rifled a shot off the post and Celtic’s unremitting pressure saw them produce 13 attempts on and off the target by the break, compared to Dundee’s grand total of zero. The surprise by that stage of the proceedings was that Celtic were only 2-0 to the good and that their second goal arrived as late as the 42nd minute when Olivier Ntcham provided a pass for Griffiths, so well judged that the striker did not have to break stride before placing his finish low behind Elliot Parish. James Forrest, who stood out for Celtic in this win, scores his goal Credit: Getty Images Celtic’s momentum had perhaps been disrupted by the seven-minute stoppage required when Hayes and Meekings went into a full-blooded challenge which left both players writhing on the turf. Meekings was able to limp from the field, to be replaced by Darren O’Dea, but Hayes – who scored his first Celtic goal in Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Aberdeen – had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle, with Michael Johnston taking his place. The 18-year-old winger thought he had added to Celtic’s advantage in first-half injury time but his close-range attempt was blocked by Parish and the goalkeeper was promptly required to deal with a powerful effort from Forrest by tipping it over the top. Forrest was Celtic’s outstanding performer and displayed a channelled energy which seemed beyond his capability in his younger days. Celtic’s superiority extended to maintaining their position while dropping down through the gears in the second half, with Saturday’s meeting with Rangers in mind. The drop in tempo and intensity allowed Dundee – for whom Jack Lambert and Matty Henvey made debuts as substitutes – to salvage a degree of self-respect with a spell of late pressure but their overall menace amounted only to one fierce drive from Paul McGowan, which swooped just over the crossbar, plus a drive from distance by Cammy Kerr that was taken comfortably by Craig Gordon, who was probably glad of the exercise. Match details Dundee (4-4-2): Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, McGowan, Kamara, El-Bakhtaoui (Lambert 62); Moussa, Leitch-Smith (Henvey 79). Subs: Ferrie (g), Holt, Waddell, Curran. Booked: Moussa. Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham (Armstrong 66), Brown; Hayes (Johnston 26), McGregor, Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 77). Subs: De Vries (g), Bitton, Simunovic, Edouard. Booked: Boyata, Brown. Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Celtic posted a double-figure points lead over Aberdeen – whose game in hand is at home to Partick Thistle tomorrow – with this comfortable victory over Dundee at Dens Park and goals from James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths on an afternoon that would have been significantly more damaging for the home team had the champions taken their chances during an early period of overwhelming domination. Since losing their long unbeaten record under Brendan Rodgers to Hearts at Tynecastle, Celtic have posted three successive wins, as the manager rotates his squad. For this fixture, Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench and Scott Sinclair was granted an afternoon’s rest against a Dundee side unchanged from their 1-1 weekend draw with Motherwell. Dembele was the subject of reports which claimed him to be a January target for Brighton but Rodgers remarked of the speculation about the French striker that there was “nothing at all” in it, although, when asked if the player would still be a Celtic employee by the end of next month, added: “I can’t say that.” What could be stated without contradiction by the midway stage of the contest was that the first half must have seemed close to interminable for Dundee. By the quarter-hour mark Celtic had a near monopoly of possession – no less than 85 per cent, in fact – and their relentless pressing game had seen them take the lead when a typically dangerous thrust and cutback from Kieran Tierney set Forrest up for a simple strike to take his striking total for the club to 50 goals. Even before the opener, Callum McGregor had rifled a shot off the post and Celtic’s unremitting pressure saw them produce 13 attempts on and off the target by the break, compared to Dundee’s grand total of zero. The surprise by that stage of the proceedings was that Celtic were only 2-0 to the good and that their second goal arrived as late as the 42nd minute when Olivier Ntcham provided a pass for Griffiths, so well judged that the striker did not have to break stride before placing his finish low behind Elliot Parish. Forrest, who stood out for Celtic in this win, scores his goal Credit: Getty Images Europe Celtic’s momentum had perhaps been disrupted by the seven-minute stoppage required when Hayes and Meekings went into a full-blooded challenge which left both players writhing on the turf. Meekings was able to limp from the field, to be replaced by Darren O’Dea, but Hayes – who scored his first Celtic goal in Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Aberdeen – had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle, with Michael Johnston taking his place. The 18-year-old winger thought he had added to Celtic’s advantage in first-half injury time but his close-range attempt was blocked by Parish and the goalkeeper was promptly required to deal with a powerful effort from Forrest by tipping it over the top. Forrest was Celtic’s outstanding performer and displayed a channelled energy which seemed beyond his capability in his younger days. Celtic’s superiority extended to maintaining their position while dropping down through the gears in the second half, with Saturday’s meeting with Rangers in mind. The drop in tempo and intensity allowed Dundee – for whom Jack Lambert and Matty Henvey made debuts as substitutes – to salvage a degree of self-respect with a spell of late pressure but their overall menace amounted only to one fierce drive from Paul McGowan, which swooped just over the crossbar, plus a drive from distance by Cammy Kerr that was taken comfortably by Craig Gordon, who was probably glad of the exercise. Match details Dundee (4-4-2): Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, McGowan, Kamara, El-Bakhtaoui (Lambert 62); Moussa, Leitch-Smith (Henvey 79). Subs: Ferrie (g), Holt, Waddell, Curran. Booked: Moussa. Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham (Armstrong 66), Brown; Hayes (Johnston 26), McGregor, Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 77). Subs: De Vries (g), Bitton, Simunovic, Edouard. Booked: Boyata, Brown. Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Dundee 0 Celtic 2: James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths goals move Celtic 11 points clear
Celtic posted a double-figure points lead over Aberdeen – whose game in hand is at home to Partick Thistle tomorrow – with this comfortable victory over Dundee at Dens Park and goals from James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths on an afternoon that would have been significantly more damaging for the home team had the champions taken their chances during an early period of overwhelming domination. Since losing their long unbeaten record under Brendan Rodgers to Hearts at Tynecastle, Celtic have posted three successive wins, as the manager rotates his squad. For this fixture, Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench and Scott Sinclair was granted an afternoon’s rest against a Dundee side unchanged from their 1-1 weekend draw with Motherwell. Dembele was the subject of reports which claimed him to be a January target for Brighton but Rodgers remarked of the speculation about the French striker that there was “nothing at all” in it, although, when asked if the player would still be a Celtic employee by the end of next month, added: “I can’t say that.” What could be stated without contradiction by the midway stage of the contest was that the first half must have seemed close to interminable for Dundee. By the quarter-hour mark Celtic had a near monopoly of possession – no less than 85 per cent, in fact – and their relentless pressing game had seen them take the lead when a typically dangerous thrust and cutback from Kieran Tierney set Forrest up for a simple strike to take his striking total for the club to 50 goals. Even before the opener, Callum McGregor had rifled a shot off the post and Celtic’s unremitting pressure saw them produce 13 attempts on and off the target by the break, compared to Dundee’s grand total of zero. The surprise by that stage of the proceedings was that Celtic were only 2-0 to the good and that their second goal arrived as late as the 42nd minute when Olivier Ntcham provided a pass for Griffiths, so well judged that the striker did not have to break stride before placing his finish low behind Elliot Parish. Forrest, who stood out for Celtic in this win, scores his goal Credit: Getty Images Europe Celtic’s momentum had perhaps been disrupted by the seven-minute stoppage required when Hayes and Meekings went into a full-blooded challenge which left both players writhing on the turf. Meekings was able to limp from the field, to be replaced by Darren O’Dea, but Hayes – who scored his first Celtic goal in Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Aberdeen – had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle, with Michael Johnston taking his place. The 18-year-old winger thought he had added to Celtic’s advantage in first-half injury time but his close-range attempt was blocked by Parish and the goalkeeper was promptly required to deal with a powerful effort from Forrest by tipping it over the top. Forrest was Celtic’s outstanding performer and displayed a channelled energy which seemed beyond his capability in his younger days. Celtic’s superiority extended to maintaining their position while dropping down through the gears in the second half, with Saturday’s meeting with Rangers in mind. The drop in tempo and intensity allowed Dundee – for whom Jack Lambert and Matty Henvey made debuts as substitutes – to salvage a degree of self-respect with a spell of late pressure but their overall menace amounted only to one fierce drive from Paul McGowan, which swooped just over the crossbar, plus a drive from distance by Cammy Kerr that was taken comfortably by Craig Gordon, who was probably glad of the exercise. Match details Dundee (4-4-2): Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, McGowan, Kamara, El-Bakhtaoui (Lambert 62); Moussa, Leitch-Smith (Henvey 79). Subs: Ferrie (g), Holt, Waddell, Curran. Booked: Moussa. Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham (Armstrong 66), Brown; Hayes (Johnston 26), McGregor, Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 77). Subs: De Vries (g), Bitton, Simunovic, Edouard. Booked: Boyata, Brown. Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Just as Santa put his feet up, Celtic pulled on their boots to prepare for their Boxing Day lunchtime kick-off against Dundee at Dens Park. Christmas dinner with families was off the menu for the Scottish champions, who put in a late afternoon training session before boarding the bus for an overnight stay on Tayside. Tough on the Parkhead players? Hardly, according to their manager. “We were in here at Celtic Park on Christmas Day. You have to work. It’s not rocket science,” said Brendan Rodgers. “You could easily let them go home, but you have to earn your money. There is a price to pay. If you want success and to be consistent, then you must work, so we trained at 5.30pm on Christmas Day and then we drove up to Dundee and stayed in a hotel. It’s a privileged life but you have to make sacrifices.” A year ago, Celtic went into the winter break with a 19-point lead over Mark Warburton’s Rangers and a 21-point advantage over Aberdeen, as they pushed relentlessly through a season which saw them unbeaten in any domestic competition. That momentum continued until their 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle, one game shy of an unbeaten 70 in successive domestic fixtures and they have dropped more points by the midway point in the current campaign than in the whole of Rodgers’ first season in the job. That fact seemed to offer encouragement to Aberdeen, whose visit to Celtic Park on Saturday was undertaken in the hope of emulating Hearts by inflicting further damage on the leaders, as Greg Stewart, the Dons midfielder, admitted when reflecting upon losing 3-0 to the Hoops for the second time this season. “We spoke about it. Hearts did well against them and we felt that if we pressed them and imposed our game on them we could have an effect on it but, fair play to Celtic, it wasn’t to be,” Stewart said. In truth, barring a 20-minute spell before the break and intermittent flickers in the second half, Aberdeen were unable to generate much by way of plausible threat. They looked forlorn after falling behind in the 40th minute when Mikael Lustig’s shot took a wide deflection off Dominic Ball’s shoulder and were further undone when Mark Reynold’s attempted clearance of a driven cross from Scott Sinclair bounced off Kari Arnason to fall perfectly for Jonny Hayes to turn home his first Celtic goal since moving from Aberdeen in the summer. Kenny McLean’s misplaced back pass to Joe Lewis left the goalkeeper stranded as Olivier Ntcham rounded him for Celtic’s third. “We just have to be upbeat about the first half and spells in the second half,” said Stewart. “You obviously hope that somebody can take points off Celtic and you just need to keep on beating the other teams. We just want to get maximum points from the two games going into the winter break. “Realistically, probably second is what we’re aiming for but if Celtic slip up and we keep winning, you never know.” Aberdeen failed to emulate Hearts' heroics against Celtic on Saturday Credit: PA Aberdeen’s schedule sees them at home to Partick Thistle on Wednesday and to Hearts on Saturday. For Celtic, meanwhile, the trip to Dundee is followed by the visit of Rangers for the second Old Firm derby of the season. “I am not going to cry if we’re not, but if we get into a position where we have a double-digit points lead going into the break then I think the players would deserve a huge amount of credit,” said Rodgers. “Whatever the lead is, to play the number of games we have and to do so at such an intensity, it’s been really phenomenal. Over the course of 71 games now, we have faced everything. When we lost to Hearts, it was because Hearts deserved to win the game. The pitch was awful, but we weren’t very good on the day, either collectively or individually. Aberdeen, who ate a good team, want to press us, Rangers have tried to press us, teams have sat deep, we’ve been to astroturf pitches and teams have pressed us on that. “We’ve had it a number of times. That day, against Hearts, we just couldn’t find the solution. It is a tribute to these players of how they got over that disappointment. That’s the job of the manager and coaching staff to tell them that we go again. “Aberdeen press well, which is why they got a result like their win over Hibs, but we score most of our goals from 60-90 minutes because physically and technically the team is in a good condition. We always have to improve and we will do in the second half of the season.”
Celtic put Christmas dinner on hold to train for Dundee match
Just as Santa put his feet up, Celtic pulled on their boots to prepare for their Boxing Day lunchtime kick-off against Dundee at Dens Park. Christmas dinner with families was off the menu for the Scottish champions, who put in a late afternoon training session before boarding the bus for an overnight stay on Tayside. Tough on the Parkhead players? Hardly, according to their manager. “We were in here at Celtic Park on Christmas Day. You have to work. It’s not rocket science,” said Brendan Rodgers. “You could easily let them go home, but you have to earn your money. There is a price to pay. If you want success and to be consistent, then you must work, so we trained at 5.30pm on Christmas Day and then we drove up to Dundee and stayed in a hotel. It’s a privileged life but you have to make sacrifices.” A year ago, Celtic went into the winter break with a 19-point lead over Mark Warburton’s Rangers and a 21-point advantage over Aberdeen, as they pushed relentlessly through a season which saw them unbeaten in any domestic competition. That momentum continued until their 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle, one game shy of an unbeaten 70 in successive domestic fixtures and they have dropped more points by the midway point in the current campaign than in the whole of Rodgers’ first season in the job. That fact seemed to offer encouragement to Aberdeen, whose visit to Celtic Park on Saturday was undertaken in the hope of emulating Hearts by inflicting further damage on the leaders, as Greg Stewart, the Dons midfielder, admitted when reflecting upon losing 3-0 to the Hoops for the second time this season. “We spoke about it. Hearts did well against them and we felt that if we pressed them and imposed our game on them we could have an effect on it but, fair play to Celtic, it wasn’t to be,” Stewart said. In truth, barring a 20-minute spell before the break and intermittent flickers in the second half, Aberdeen were unable to generate much by way of plausible threat. They looked forlorn after falling behind in the 40th minute when Mikael Lustig’s shot took a wide deflection off Dominic Ball’s shoulder and were further undone when Mark Reynold’s attempted clearance of a driven cross from Scott Sinclair bounced off Kari Arnason to fall perfectly for Jonny Hayes to turn home his first Celtic goal since moving from Aberdeen in the summer. Kenny McLean’s misplaced back pass to Joe Lewis left the goalkeeper stranded as Olivier Ntcham rounded him for Celtic’s third. “We just have to be upbeat about the first half and spells in the second half,” said Stewart. “You obviously hope that somebody can take points off Celtic and you just need to keep on beating the other teams. We just want to get maximum points from the two games going into the winter break. “Realistically, probably second is what we’re aiming for but if Celtic slip up and we keep winning, you never know.” Aberdeen failed to emulate Hearts' heroics against Celtic on Saturday Credit: PA Aberdeen’s schedule sees them at home to Partick Thistle on Wednesday and to Hearts on Saturday. For Celtic, meanwhile, the trip to Dundee is followed by the visit of Rangers for the second Old Firm derby of the season. “I am not going to cry if we’re not, but if we get into a position where we have a double-digit points lead going into the break then I think the players would deserve a huge amount of credit,” said Rodgers. “Whatever the lead is, to play the number of games we have and to do so at such an intensity, it’s been really phenomenal. Over the course of 71 games now, we have faced everything. When we lost to Hearts, it was because Hearts deserved to win the game. The pitch was awful, but we weren’t very good on the day, either collectively or individually. Aberdeen, who ate a good team, want to press us, Rangers have tried to press us, teams have sat deep, we’ve been to astroturf pitches and teams have pressed us on that. “We’ve had it a number of times. That day, against Hearts, we just couldn’t find the solution. It is a tribute to these players of how they got over that disappointment. That’s the job of the manager and coaching staff to tell them that we go again. “Aberdeen press well, which is why they got a result like their win over Hibs, but we score most of our goals from 60-90 minutes because physically and technically the team is in a good condition. We always have to improve and we will do in the second half of the season.”
Just as Santa put his feet up, Celtic pulled on their boots to prepare for their Boxing Day lunchtime kick-off against Dundee at Dens Park. Christmas dinner with families was off the menu for the Scottish champions, who put in a late afternoon training session before boarding the bus for an overnight stay on Tayside. Tough on the Parkhead players? Hardly, according to their manager. “We were in here at Celtic Park on Christmas Day. You have to work. It’s not rocket science,” said Brendan Rodgers. “You could easily let them go home, but you have to earn your money. There is a price to pay. If you want success and to be consistent, then you must work, so we trained at 5.30pm on Christmas Day and then we drove up to Dundee and stayed in a hotel. It’s a privileged life but you have to make sacrifices.” A year ago, Celtic went into the winter break with a 19-point lead over Mark Warburton’s Rangers and a 21-point advantage over Aberdeen, as they pushed relentlessly through a season which saw them unbeaten in any domestic competition. That momentum continued until their 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle, one game shy of an unbeaten 70 in successive domestic fixtures and they have dropped more points by the midway point in the current campaign than in the whole of Rodgers’ first season in the job. That fact seemed to offer encouragement to Aberdeen, whose visit to Celtic Park on Saturday was undertaken in the hope of emulating Hearts by inflicting further damage on the leaders, as Greg Stewart, the Dons midfielder, admitted when reflecting upon losing 3-0 to the Hoops for the second time this season. “We spoke about it. Hearts did well against them and we felt that if we pressed them and imposed our game on them we could have an effect on it but, fair play to Celtic, it wasn’t to be,” Stewart said. In truth, barring a 20-minute spell before the break and intermittent flickers in the second half, Aberdeen were unable to generate much by way of plausible threat. They looked forlorn after falling behind in the 40th minute when Mikael Lustig’s shot took a wide deflection off Dominic Ball’s shoulder and were further undone when Mark Reynold’s attempted clearance of a driven cross from Scott Sinclair bounced off Kari Arnason to fall perfectly for Jonny Hayes to turn home his first Celtic goal since moving from Aberdeen in the summer. Kenny McLean’s misplaced back pass to Joe Lewis left the goalkeeper stranded as Olivier Ntcham rounded him for Celtic’s third. “We just have to be upbeat about the first half and spells in the second half,” said Stewart. “You obviously hope that somebody can take points off Celtic and you just need to keep on beating the other teams. We just want to get maximum points from the two games going into the winter break. “Realistically, probably second is what we’re aiming for but if Celtic slip up and we keep winning, you never know.” Aberdeen failed to emulate Hearts' heroics against Celtic on Saturday Credit: PA Aberdeen’s schedule sees them at home to Partick Thistle on Wednesday and to Hearts on Saturday. For Celtic, meanwhile, the trip to Dundee is followed by the visit of Rangers for the second Old Firm derby of the season. “I am not going to cry if we’re not, but if we get into a position where we have a double-digit points lead going into the break then I think the players would deserve a huge amount of credit,” said Rodgers. “Whatever the lead is, to play the number of games we have and to do so at such an intensity, it’s been really phenomenal. Over the course of 71 games now, we have faced everything. When we lost to Hearts, it was because Hearts deserved to win the game. The pitch was awful, but we weren’t very good on the day, either collectively or individually. Aberdeen, who ate a good team, want to press us, Rangers have tried to press us, teams have sat deep, we’ve been to astroturf pitches and teams have pressed us on that. “We’ve had it a number of times. That day, against Hearts, we just couldn’t find the solution. It is a tribute to these players of how they got over that disappointment. That’s the job of the manager and coaching staff to tell them that we go again. “Aberdeen press well, which is why they got a result like their win over Hibs, but we score most of our goals from 60-90 minutes because physically and technically the team is in a good condition. We always have to improve and we will do in the second half of the season.”
Celtic put Christmas dinner on hold to train for Dundee match
Just as Santa put his feet up, Celtic pulled on their boots to prepare for their Boxing Day lunchtime kick-off against Dundee at Dens Park. Christmas dinner with families was off the menu for the Scottish champions, who put in a late afternoon training session before boarding the bus for an overnight stay on Tayside. Tough on the Parkhead players? Hardly, according to their manager. “We were in here at Celtic Park on Christmas Day. You have to work. It’s not rocket science,” said Brendan Rodgers. “You could easily let them go home, but you have to earn your money. There is a price to pay. If you want success and to be consistent, then you must work, so we trained at 5.30pm on Christmas Day and then we drove up to Dundee and stayed in a hotel. It’s a privileged life but you have to make sacrifices.” A year ago, Celtic went into the winter break with a 19-point lead over Mark Warburton’s Rangers and a 21-point advantage over Aberdeen, as they pushed relentlessly through a season which saw them unbeaten in any domestic competition. That momentum continued until their 4-0 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle, one game shy of an unbeaten 70 in successive domestic fixtures and they have dropped more points by the midway point in the current campaign than in the whole of Rodgers’ first season in the job. That fact seemed to offer encouragement to Aberdeen, whose visit to Celtic Park on Saturday was undertaken in the hope of emulating Hearts by inflicting further damage on the leaders, as Greg Stewart, the Dons midfielder, admitted when reflecting upon losing 3-0 to the Hoops for the second time this season. “We spoke about it. Hearts did well against them and we felt that if we pressed them and imposed our game on them we could have an effect on it but, fair play to Celtic, it wasn’t to be,” Stewart said. In truth, barring a 20-minute spell before the break and intermittent flickers in the second half, Aberdeen were unable to generate much by way of plausible threat. They looked forlorn after falling behind in the 40th minute when Mikael Lustig’s shot took a wide deflection off Dominic Ball’s shoulder and were further undone when Mark Reynold’s attempted clearance of a driven cross from Scott Sinclair bounced off Kari Arnason to fall perfectly for Jonny Hayes to turn home his first Celtic goal since moving from Aberdeen in the summer. Kenny McLean’s misplaced back pass to Joe Lewis left the goalkeeper stranded as Olivier Ntcham rounded him for Celtic’s third. “We just have to be upbeat about the first half and spells in the second half,” said Stewart. “You obviously hope that somebody can take points off Celtic and you just need to keep on beating the other teams. We just want to get maximum points from the two games going into the winter break. “Realistically, probably second is what we’re aiming for but if Celtic slip up and we keep winning, you never know.” Aberdeen failed to emulate Hearts' heroics against Celtic on Saturday Credit: PA Aberdeen’s schedule sees them at home to Partick Thistle on Wednesday and to Hearts on Saturday. For Celtic, meanwhile, the trip to Dundee is followed by the visit of Rangers for the second Old Firm derby of the season. “I am not going to cry if we’re not, but if we get into a position where we have a double-digit points lead going into the break then I think the players would deserve a huge amount of credit,” said Rodgers. “Whatever the lead is, to play the number of games we have and to do so at such an intensity, it’s been really phenomenal. Over the course of 71 games now, we have faced everything. When we lost to Hearts, it was because Hearts deserved to win the game. The pitch was awful, but we weren’t very good on the day, either collectively or individually. Aberdeen, who ate a good team, want to press us, Rangers have tried to press us, teams have sat deep, we’ve been to astroturf pitches and teams have pressed us on that. “We’ve had it a number of times. That day, against Hearts, we just couldn’t find the solution. It is a tribute to these players of how they got over that disappointment. That’s the job of the manager and coaching staff to tell them that we go again. “Aberdeen press well, which is why they got a result like their win over Hibs, but we score most of our goals from 60-90 minutes because physically and technically the team is in a good condition. We always have to improve and we will do in the second half of the season.”
Normal business was resumed by Celtic who responded to the condign punishment administered in a 4-0 defeat by Heart of Midlothian by dispatching Partick Thistle in this rearranged home fixture for a victory which put the league leaders five points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, who are Saturday’s visitors. Much of the proceedings, especially in the early stages, were conducted in a desultory fashion but the occasion was enlivened by fine goals from Stuart Armstrong and Kieran Tierney, on either side of the interval. Marvin Compper, the central defender signed from Red Bull Leipzig earlier this week, flew into Glasgow to be introduced to the crowd at half time, although his first appearance at Celtic Park was almost a sodden affair, averted because he displayed sharp reflexes to avoid the deluge of a pitch sprinkler which erupted unexpectedly in his vicinity. Alan Archibald, the Thistle manager, had warned his players to anticipate a backlash from the champions, but his fears were not substantiated during a first half in which the home players and supporters were largely listless. The atmosphere was not helped by the clusters of empty seats vacated by fans whose attention was presumably diverted to the joys or demands of the festive season. Brendan Rodgers had said beforehand that that the best response to the unexpected but emphatic setback at Tynecastle would be for Celtic to press the reset button. He made three changes to his weekend team, with Jozo Simunovic, Olivier Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths replaced by Kristoffer Ajer, Armstrong and Odsonne Edouard. Thistle, meanwhile, included Steven Lawless and the 19-year-old Andrew McCarthy, in place of Martin Woods and Conor Sammon, after the 2-0 defeat by Dundee at Dens Park. The Jags’ 4-5-1 deployment proved sufficient to smother the Hoops’ ambition for most of the opening 45 minutes. History did not favour the visitors, who had not won in the east end of Glasgow since 1995 – although they achieved a draw at Parkhead in April and they could not replicate the intensity of the pressing game which proved so effective for Hearts but, they proved sufficiently diligent to contain the league leaders effectively until 10 minutes before half time. By that stage Celtic had a superior, but not overwhelming, share of possession and Thistle had given themselves encouragement by forcing two corner kicks. Armstrong’s moment came when he gathered a pass from Tierney, glanced up and saw that, for once, the available space had not been filled by a Thistle defender. The Celtic midfielder’s left-foot shot left Thomas Cerny stranded on its way high into the net. Celtic’s habit is to raise the tempo immediately after the interval, especially against opponents who succeed in generating a degree of frustration by deep defensive tactics and Cerny was twice forced to make good saves from Edouard but, midway through the second half the Firhill goalkeeper was confounded by another move involving the tireless Tierney. In this instance, the Celtic left-back pushed up to link with Scott Sinclair, exchanged passes with the winger and finished with a fierce drive between Cerny and his near post. The goal conveniently coincided with the Hoops fans’ commemoration of the club’s 1967 triumph in the European Cup final in Lisbon – the massed display of mobile phone torch lights – and Celtic Park was at last suffused with a general feeling of wellbeing. Match details Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Hayes 61), McGregor, Sinclair (Johnston 70); Edouard (Griffiths 78). Subs (unused): Hazard (g), Dembele, Ntcham, Sviatchenko. Partick Thistle (4-5-1): Cerny; McGinn, Keown, Devine, Turnbull; Spittal (Fraser 72), Edwards, McCarthy (Erskine 57), Barton, Lawless; Storey (Doolan 75). Booked: Fraser, McGinn. Subs (unused): Scully (g), Nitriansky, Sammon, Nisbet. Booked: McCarthy, Barton, Devine. Referee: Alan Muir.
Celtic 2 Partick Thistle 0: Brendan Rodgers' Bhoys get back to winning ways to extend lead at top of the table
Normal business was resumed by Celtic who responded to the condign punishment administered in a 4-0 defeat by Heart of Midlothian by dispatching Partick Thistle in this rearranged home fixture for a victory which put the league leaders five points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, who are Saturday’s visitors. Much of the proceedings, especially in the early stages, were conducted in a desultory fashion but the occasion was enlivened by fine goals from Stuart Armstrong and Kieran Tierney, on either side of the interval. Marvin Compper, the central defender signed from Red Bull Leipzig earlier this week, flew into Glasgow to be introduced to the crowd at half time, although his first appearance at Celtic Park was almost a sodden affair, averted because he displayed sharp reflexes to avoid the deluge of a pitch sprinkler which erupted unexpectedly in his vicinity. Alan Archibald, the Thistle manager, had warned his players to anticipate a backlash from the champions, but his fears were not substantiated during a first half in which the home players and supporters were largely listless. The atmosphere was not helped by the clusters of empty seats vacated by fans whose attention was presumably diverted to the joys or demands of the festive season. Brendan Rodgers had said beforehand that that the best response to the unexpected but emphatic setback at Tynecastle would be for Celtic to press the reset button. He made three changes to his weekend team, with Jozo Simunovic, Olivier Ntcham and Leigh Griffiths replaced by Kristoffer Ajer, Armstrong and Odsonne Edouard. Thistle, meanwhile, included Steven Lawless and the 19-year-old Andrew McCarthy, in place of Martin Woods and Conor Sammon, after the 2-0 defeat by Dundee at Dens Park. The Jags’ 4-5-1 deployment proved sufficient to smother the Hoops’ ambition for most of the opening 45 minutes. History did not favour the visitors, who had not won in the east end of Glasgow since 1995 – although they achieved a draw at Parkhead in April and they could not replicate the intensity of the pressing game which proved so effective for Hearts but, they proved sufficiently diligent to contain the league leaders effectively until 10 minutes before half time. By that stage Celtic had a superior, but not overwhelming, share of possession and Thistle had given themselves encouragement by forcing two corner kicks. Armstrong’s moment came when he gathered a pass from Tierney, glanced up and saw that, for once, the available space had not been filled by a Thistle defender. The Celtic midfielder’s left-foot shot left Thomas Cerny stranded on its way high into the net. Celtic’s habit is to raise the tempo immediately after the interval, especially against opponents who succeed in generating a degree of frustration by deep defensive tactics and Cerny was twice forced to make good saves from Edouard but, midway through the second half the Firhill goalkeeper was confounded by another move involving the tireless Tierney. In this instance, the Celtic left-back pushed up to link with Scott Sinclair, exchanged passes with the winger and finished with a fierce drive between Cerny and his near post. The goal conveniently coincided with the Hoops fans’ commemoration of the club’s 1967 triumph in the European Cup final in Lisbon – the massed display of mobile phone torch lights – and Celtic Park was at last suffused with a general feeling of wellbeing. Match details Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Hayes 61), McGregor, Sinclair (Johnston 70); Edouard (Griffiths 78). Subs (unused): Hazard (g), Dembele, Ntcham, Sviatchenko. Partick Thistle (4-5-1): Cerny; McGinn, Keown, Devine, Turnbull; Spittal (Fraser 72), Edwards, McCarthy (Erskine 57), Barton, Lawless; Storey (Doolan 75). Booked: Fraser, McGinn. Subs (unused): Scully (g), Nitriansky, Sammon, Nisbet. Booked: McCarthy, Barton, Devine. Referee: Alan Muir.
Celtic 2 Partick Thistle 0: Brendan Rodgers' Bhoys get back to winning ways to extend lead at top of the table
Celtic 2 Partick Thistle 0: Brendan Rodgers' Bhoys get back to winning ways to extend lead at top of the table
Celtic 2 Partick Thistle 0: Brendan Rodgers' Bhoys get back to winning ways to extend lead at top of the table
An Old Firm manager gets the bullet after a string of bad results and a novice is thrust into the maelstrom with no notice. Sounds familiar? Yes, it was in March 2010 that Tony Mowbray was sacked by Celtic after 10 months in charge and Neil Lennon asked to take care on an interim basis, a tenure that was almost stillborn when Celtic crashed to a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Ross County. He remained in place for the rest of the season before being given the job full-time. He guided Celtic to three titles, two Scottish Cups and the last 16 of the Champions League. The Northern Irishman quit Celtic Park in 2014 and, after a spell at Bolton, was lured back to Scotland by Hibs in the summer of 2016, steering them to a return to the Premiership in his season. In the current campaign, his side have drawn with Celtic home and away in the league and beaten Rangers at Ibrox. On Wednesday, Rangers made up for the setback by beating Hibs at Easter Road, under the supervision of Graeme Murty, now in his second spell as caretaker manager in the aftermath of Pedro Caixinha’s sacking, having already performed the function in the wake of Mark Warburton’s departure in February. Murty did not expect to still be in charge; the Ibrox board were chasing Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes but their job offer was rebuffed. “I’m not sure there are many people who have been on the type of journey I’ve been on,” Murty said last night. “I actually talked to one on Wednesday in the shape of Neil Lennon and he spoke of his experience of being a caretaker at a massive, massive club. “The lessons he talked about are the things that I am going through now. It’s been an eye-opening year, a year of fantastic growth and development for me personally and professionally. It’s given me an insight into what I have to say is a magnificent club. “It’s opened my eyes to the wider world of football. Sometimes when you are in football, you get caught up in a bubble of the here and now, you forget how transient everything is but, coming to a club like Rangers, you get that feeling of history. “I realise I have a different status currently but I’m still the same person who goes home every night and is only third in charge of my own house.” Murty described his discussions with Lennon as “open and candid”, with his main piece of advice to enjoy the wins. “Coming from someone who must have been hurting quite a bit, that was very big of him. I really appreciated that,” says Murty. “I always have the feeling that it’s going to come crashing to a halt at any moment. That is why I’m enjoying it so much.” Graeme Murty directs his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES That sense of transience has underlined the importance of taking lessons from every day. “I’m trying to take as much learning and depth out of everything to help me to keep growing and developing as you don’t know when it’s going to stop,” he added. “I’m embracing it, but I’m thankful to the players for being on this journey with me. They haven’t come into this with any agenda whatsoever. They have just been very good pros and worked so hard. They get a lot of stick but I’ll be the one to stand up for them as they have been great for me.” Murty and Lennon experienced severe reverses on Saturday. Hibs lost away for the first time since March against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, where Graeme Shinnie opened the scoring and Gary Mackay-Steven got a hat-trick in a 4-1 win, with Anthony Stokes netting a last-minute consolation goal. Rangers – bidding for five successive top-flight league wins for the first time since 2011 – took the lead at home to St Johnstone through Alfredo Morelos, but goals from Blair Alston, Denny Johnstone and Graham Cummings gave Saints their first league win at Ibrox since 1971. Elsewhere, Dundee beat bottom side Partick Thistle 3-0, Hamilton were 3-2 winners over Ross County, and Kilmarnock pipped Motherwell 1-0.
Graeme Murty takes advice from Neil Lennon on being an Old Firm caretaker
An Old Firm manager gets the bullet after a string of bad results and a novice is thrust into the maelstrom with no notice. Sounds familiar? Yes, it was in March 2010 that Tony Mowbray was sacked by Celtic after 10 months in charge and Neil Lennon asked to take care on an interim basis, a tenure that was almost stillborn when Celtic crashed to a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Ross County. He remained in place for the rest of the season before being given the job full-time. He guided Celtic to three titles, two Scottish Cups and the last 16 of the Champions League. The Northern Irishman quit Celtic Park in 2014 and, after a spell at Bolton, was lured back to Scotland by Hibs in the summer of 2016, steering them to a return to the Premiership in his season. In the current campaign, his side have drawn with Celtic home and away in the league and beaten Rangers at Ibrox. On Wednesday, Rangers made up for the setback by beating Hibs at Easter Road, under the supervision of Graeme Murty, now in his second spell as caretaker manager in the aftermath of Pedro Caixinha’s sacking, having already performed the function in the wake of Mark Warburton’s departure in February. Murty did not expect to still be in charge; the Ibrox board were chasing Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes but their job offer was rebuffed. “I’m not sure there are many people who have been on the type of journey I’ve been on,” Murty said last night. “I actually talked to one on Wednesday in the shape of Neil Lennon and he spoke of his experience of being a caretaker at a massive, massive club. “The lessons he talked about are the things that I am going through now. It’s been an eye-opening year, a year of fantastic growth and development for me personally and professionally. It’s given me an insight into what I have to say is a magnificent club. “It’s opened my eyes to the wider world of football. Sometimes when you are in football, you get caught up in a bubble of the here and now, you forget how transient everything is but, coming to a club like Rangers, you get that feeling of history. “I realise I have a different status currently but I’m still the same person who goes home every night and is only third in charge of my own house.” Murty described his discussions with Lennon as “open and candid”, with his main piece of advice to enjoy the wins. “Coming from someone who must have been hurting quite a bit, that was very big of him. I really appreciated that,” says Murty. “I always have the feeling that it’s going to come crashing to a halt at any moment. That is why I’m enjoying it so much.” Graeme Murty directs his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES That sense of transience has underlined the importance of taking lessons from every day. “I’m trying to take as much learning and depth out of everything to help me to keep growing and developing as you don’t know when it’s going to stop,” he added. “I’m embracing it, but I’m thankful to the players for being on this journey with me. They haven’t come into this with any agenda whatsoever. They have just been very good pros and worked so hard. They get a lot of stick but I’ll be the one to stand up for them as they have been great for me.” Murty and Lennon experienced severe reverses on Saturday. Hibs lost away for the first time since March against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, where Graeme Shinnie opened the scoring and Gary Mackay-Steven got a hat-trick in a 4-1 win, with Anthony Stokes netting a last-minute consolation goal. Rangers – bidding for five successive top-flight league wins for the first time since 2011 – took the lead at home to St Johnstone through Alfredo Morelos, but goals from Blair Alston, Denny Johnstone and Graham Cummings gave Saints their first league win at Ibrox since 1971. Elsewhere, Dundee beat bottom side Partick Thistle 3-0, Hamilton were 3-2 winners over Ross County, and Kilmarnock pipped Motherwell 1-0.
An Old Firm manager gets the bullet after a string of bad results and a novice is thrust into the maelstrom with no notice. Sounds familiar? Yes, it was in March 2010 that Tony Mowbray was sacked by Celtic after 10 months in charge and Neil Lennon asked to take care on an interim basis, a tenure that was almost stillborn when Celtic crashed to a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Ross County. He remained in place for the rest of the season before being given the job full-time. He guided Celtic to three titles, two Scottish Cups and the last 16 of the Champions League. The Northern Irishman quit Celtic Park in 2014 and, after a spell at Bolton, was lured back to Scotland by Hibs in the summer of 2016, steering them to a return to the Premiership in his season. In the current campaign, his side have drawn with Celtic home and away in the league and beaten Rangers at Ibrox. On Wednesday, Rangers made up for the setback by beating Hibs at Easter Road, under the supervision of Graeme Murty, now in his second spell as caretaker manager in the aftermath of Pedro Caixinha’s sacking, having already performed the function in the wake of Mark Warburton’s departure in February. Murty did not expect to still be in charge; the Ibrox board were chasing Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes but their job offer was rebuffed. “I’m not sure there are many people who have been on the type of journey I’ve been on,” Murty said last night. “I actually talked to one on Wednesday in the shape of Neil Lennon and he spoke of his experience of being a caretaker at a massive, massive club. “The lessons he talked about are the things that I am going through now. It’s been an eye-opening year, a year of fantastic growth and development for me personally and professionally. It’s given me an insight into what I have to say is a magnificent club. “It’s opened my eyes to the wider world of football. Sometimes when you are in football, you get caught up in a bubble of the here and now, you forget how transient everything is but, coming to a club like Rangers, you get that feeling of history. “I realise I have a different status currently but I’m still the same person who goes home every night and is only third in charge of my own house.” Murty described his discussions with Lennon as “open and candid”, with his main piece of advice to enjoy the wins. “Coming from someone who must have been hurting quite a bit, that was very big of him. I really appreciated that,” says Murty. “I always have the feeling that it’s going to come crashing to a halt at any moment. That is why I’m enjoying it so much.” Graeme Murty directs his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES That sense of transience has underlined the importance of taking lessons from every day. “I’m trying to take as much learning and depth out of everything to help me to keep growing and developing as you don’t know when it’s going to stop,” he added. “I’m embracing it, but I’m thankful to the players for being on this journey with me. They haven’t come into this with any agenda whatsoever. They have just been very good pros and worked so hard. They get a lot of stick but I’ll be the one to stand up for them as they have been great for me.” Murty and Lennon experienced severe reverses on Saturday. Hibs lost away for the first time since March against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, where Graeme Shinnie opened the scoring and Gary Mackay-Steven got a hat-trick in a 4-1 win, with Anthony Stokes netting a last-minute consolation goal. Rangers – bidding for five successive top-flight league wins for the first time since 2011 – took the lead at home to St Johnstone through Alfredo Morelos, but goals from Blair Alston, Denny Johnstone and Graham Cummings gave Saints their first league win at Ibrox since 1971. Elsewhere, Dundee beat bottom side Partick Thistle 3-0, Hamilton were 3-2 winners over Ross County, and Kilmarnock pipped Motherwell 1-0.
Graeme Murty takes advice from Neil Lennon on being an Old Firm caretaker
An Old Firm manager gets the bullet after a string of bad results and a novice is thrust into the maelstrom with no notice. Sounds familiar? Yes, it was in March 2010 that Tony Mowbray was sacked by Celtic after 10 months in charge and Neil Lennon asked to take care on an interim basis, a tenure that was almost stillborn when Celtic crashed to a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Ross County. He remained in place for the rest of the season before being given the job full-time. He guided Celtic to three titles, two Scottish Cups and the last 16 of the Champions League. The Northern Irishman quit Celtic Park in 2014 and, after a spell at Bolton, was lured back to Scotland by Hibs in the summer of 2016, steering them to a return to the Premiership in his season. In the current campaign, his side have drawn with Celtic home and away in the league and beaten Rangers at Ibrox. On Wednesday, Rangers made up for the setback by beating Hibs at Easter Road, under the supervision of Graeme Murty, now in his second spell as caretaker manager in the aftermath of Pedro Caixinha’s sacking, having already performed the function in the wake of Mark Warburton’s departure in February. Murty did not expect to still be in charge; the Ibrox board were chasing Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes but their job offer was rebuffed. “I’m not sure there are many people who have been on the type of journey I’ve been on,” Murty said last night. “I actually talked to one on Wednesday in the shape of Neil Lennon and he spoke of his experience of being a caretaker at a massive, massive club. “The lessons he talked about are the things that I am going through now. It’s been an eye-opening year, a year of fantastic growth and development for me personally and professionally. It’s given me an insight into what I have to say is a magnificent club. “It’s opened my eyes to the wider world of football. Sometimes when you are in football, you get caught up in a bubble of the here and now, you forget how transient everything is but, coming to a club like Rangers, you get that feeling of history. “I realise I have a different status currently but I’m still the same person who goes home every night and is only third in charge of my own house.” Murty described his discussions with Lennon as “open and candid”, with his main piece of advice to enjoy the wins. “Coming from someone who must have been hurting quite a bit, that was very big of him. I really appreciated that,” says Murty. “I always have the feeling that it’s going to come crashing to a halt at any moment. That is why I’m enjoying it so much.” Graeme Murty directs his players Credit: GETTY IMAGES That sense of transience has underlined the importance of taking lessons from every day. “I’m trying to take as much learning and depth out of everything to help me to keep growing and developing as you don’t know when it’s going to stop,” he added. “I’m embracing it, but I’m thankful to the players for being on this journey with me. They haven’t come into this with any agenda whatsoever. They have just been very good pros and worked so hard. They get a lot of stick but I’ll be the one to stand up for them as they have been great for me.” Murty and Lennon experienced severe reverses on Saturday. Hibs lost away for the first time since March against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, where Graeme Shinnie opened the scoring and Gary Mackay-Steven got a hat-trick in a 4-1 win, with Anthony Stokes netting a last-minute consolation goal. Rangers – bidding for five successive top-flight league wins for the first time since 2011 – took the lead at home to St Johnstone through Alfredo Morelos, but goals from Blair Alston, Denny Johnstone and Graham Cummings gave Saints their first league win at Ibrox since 1971. Elsewhere, Dundee beat bottom side Partick Thistle 3-0, Hamilton were 3-2 winners over Ross County, and Kilmarnock pipped Motherwell 1-0.
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.
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.
<p>Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian&#39;s &#39;fighting spirit&#39; in win at Partick Thistle</p>
Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

<p>Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian&#39;s &#39;fighting spirit&#39; in win at Partick Thistle</p>
Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

Efe Ambrose praises Hibernian's 'fighting spirit' in win at Partick Thistle

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&#39;t think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic&#39;s players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don&#39;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&#39;t sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you&#39;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&#39;ve got. I&#39;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&#39;s gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it&#39;s been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I&#39;ve been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I&#39;m not one for framing stuff but it&#39;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.
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&#39;t think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic&#39;s players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don&#39;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&#39;t sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you&#39;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&#39;ve got. I&#39;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&#39;s gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it&#39;s been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I&#39;ve been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I&#39;m not one for framing stuff but it&#39;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.
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&#39;t think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic&#39;s players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don&#39;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&#39;t sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you&#39;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&#39;ve got. I&#39;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&#39;s gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it&#39;s been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I&#39;ve been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I&#39;m not one for framing stuff but it&#39;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.
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&#39;t think they would have predicted that they would get to the final. Celtic&#39;s players trudge off after defeat in the 2003 Uefa Cup final Credit: REx feautures “We’re the same. I don&#39;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&#39;t sit and count the medals. At Celtic, when you play in a final, you&#39;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&#39;ve got. I&#39;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&#39;s gone quite quickly. There have been ups and downs but it&#39;s been really enjoyable. “It’s hard to imagine myself playing for any other club. I&#39;ve been here since I was nine years old so anywhere but Celtic would feel strange. “All my medals are in my flat. I&#39;m not one for framing stuff but it&#39;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.
Scottish football has not been at the top table of international competition for 20 years – hence the SFA’s urgent desire to find a manager with the Midas touch – but the country’s clubs have never been more successful at providing aid to charities and worthy causes in their communities. Independent research commissioned by the Scottish Professional Football League has revealed that 770,000 local people – an annual increase of over 60,000 - have been engaged in community initiatives involving all 42 league clubs. The research also found that season ticket holders were well served by making a commitment to back their team throughout the campaign. Headline figures show that clubs engaged with approximately 772,000 people via community activity in season 2016/17, many supported by programmes run and organised by the SPFL Trust, the charitable arm of the league. Around 86 per cent of all clubs provide free tickets to matches for community groups, charities and other worthy causes, with an estimated total of 84,000 donated last season. The number of clubs offering free admission to children has risen to 62 per cent, up 5 per cent on last year’s figure. The average maximum saving for supporters across all four divisions buying a 2017/18 season ticket is £96.20, when compared with paying at the gate. Attendance figures also told an encouraging story, with total crowds for the four Ladbrokes divisions exceeding four million in season 2016/17, a 12 per cent increase year on year, while almost a quarter of a million supporters attended the first two matches of the 2017/18 season to set a new record for the SPFL. Nicky Reid, chief executive of the SPFL Trust, said: “The recent Responsiball annual report now places the SPFL as the fourth most community-focused league in the world, based on their analysis of the 25 biggest national competitions. “A rise of three places year on year, shows that this is an area of significant strength and opportunity for Scottish football. In the past year, the SPFL Trust and our clubs have been trusted to work on projects funded by the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, Erasmus, Scottish Water, Kinder+Sport, and the SPFL itself amongst others. “Our Trusted Trophy Tour also visited more than 20 clubs and demonstrated the power that football has for good across a wide range of projects. Trust is hard-earned and we all accept the responsibilities that come with that, but the direction of travel is extremely positive.” The SFA, meanwhile, announced that its Elite club football academies are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers. The second-tier Progressive grade consists of Ayr United, Dundee United, Forth Valley, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County,St Mirren and St Johnstone. The third-tier Progressive level academies are Dundee, Fife, Greenock Morton and Queen’s Park. Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018. No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.”
Scottish clubs set national charity records, with SPFL now 'fourth most community-focused league in the world'
Scottish football has not been at the top table of international competition for 20 years – hence the SFA’s urgent desire to find a manager with the Midas touch – but the country’s clubs have never been more successful at providing aid to charities and worthy causes in their communities. Independent research commissioned by the Scottish Professional Football League has revealed that 770,000 local people – an annual increase of over 60,000 - have been engaged in community initiatives involving all 42 league clubs. The research also found that season ticket holders were well served by making a commitment to back their team throughout the campaign. Headline figures show that clubs engaged with approximately 772,000 people via community activity in season 2016/17, many supported by programmes run and organised by the SPFL Trust, the charitable arm of the league. Around 86 per cent of all clubs provide free tickets to matches for community groups, charities and other worthy causes, with an estimated total of 84,000 donated last season. The number of clubs offering free admission to children has risen to 62 per cent, up 5 per cent on last year’s figure. The average maximum saving for supporters across all four divisions buying a 2017/18 season ticket is £96.20, when compared with paying at the gate. Attendance figures also told an encouraging story, with total crowds for the four Ladbrokes divisions exceeding four million in season 2016/17, a 12 per cent increase year on year, while almost a quarter of a million supporters attended the first two matches of the 2017/18 season to set a new record for the SPFL. Nicky Reid, chief executive of the SPFL Trust, said: “The recent Responsiball annual report now places the SPFL as the fourth most community-focused league in the world, based on their analysis of the 25 biggest national competitions. “A rise of three places year on year, shows that this is an area of significant strength and opportunity for Scottish football. In the past year, the SPFL Trust and our clubs have been trusted to work on projects funded by the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, Erasmus, Scottish Water, Kinder+Sport, and the SPFL itself amongst others. “Our Trusted Trophy Tour also visited more than 20 clubs and demonstrated the power that football has for good across a wide range of projects. Trust is hard-earned and we all accept the responsibilities that come with that, but the direction of travel is extremely positive.” The SFA, meanwhile, announced that its Elite club football academies are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hamilton, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Rangers. The second-tier Progressive grade consists of Ayr United, Dundee United, Forth Valley, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Partick Thistle, Ross County,St Mirren and St Johnstone. The third-tier Progressive level academies are Dundee, Fife, Greenock Morton and Queen’s Park. Scottish FA Performance Director Malky Mackay said: “What I would like to stress is that the bandings are not fixed and they will be reassessed in June 2018. No door is closed to clubs outside of the Elite bracket with aspirations to move up.”
Three standout performers from the win over Partick Thistle
Three standout performers from the win over Partick Thistle
Three standout performers from the win over Partick Thistle
Three standout performers from the win over Partick Thistle
Three standout performers from the win over Partick Thistle
Three standout performers from the win over Partick Thistle

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