Brendan Rodgers reflects on 'really nice' half-time moment as Celtic boss reminded of first spell in charge

Rodgers full of praise for Celtic performance in 7-1 demolition of Dundee
Celtic manager Brendan Rogders applauds fans at full time after the 7-1 win over Dundee. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Celtic manager Brendan Rogders applauds fans at full time after the 7-1 win over Dundee. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Brendan Rogders applauds fans at full time after the 7-1 win over Dundee. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Brendan Rodgers hailed the evident reconnection between the fans and his team as Celtic swept Dundee away at Celtic Park.

The manager said the atmosphere reminded him of his first spell at the club as the champions fired seven goals past the visitors, with the first six coming in a slick first-half performance.

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It certainly eased the pressure on Rodgers, heavily criticised this week for perceived casual sexism during an interview with BBC Scotland sports reporter Jane Lewis after Sunday’s 3-1 win over Motherwell. Even before this incident a substitution by the manager was booed by the away fans.

Everyone put their shoulder to the wheel against Dundee, including seven different goalscorers. Substitute Daniel Kelly, 18, came on and scored his side’s final goal after 63 minutes. The home fans roared their approval and gave the excellent Hyunjun Yang a loud ovation when he went off. The wide player gave on-loan Liverpool left back Owen Beck a torrid time.

"It's really nice because the young wing back for Dundee played him really well in the first game," said Rodgers. "He couldn't get past him earlier on in the season (when Celtic won 3-0 in September). So this was a really good match up to see how he'd developed.

"I thought he was outstanding, going inside and outside. He was clever and bright and had that simplicity in his game as well at the right time whilst working very hard for the team. Man of the match could have been a number of players, but it's nice for him."

Dundee, who had Finlay Robertson sent off with 12 minutes left, scored a consolation goal through substitute Michael Mellon after 84 minutes. The game had long since been beyond them. With Rangers trailing at Rugby Park, the home players received a huge ovation as they left the field at half time.

“It felt more like when I was here the first time,” said Rodgers. “That ruthless mentality of the team, simplicity of the game and the football we played. And that’s why we are here, to entertain the supporters.

“There was a really nice moment at half time when they were coming in. The fans could see then how the level of performance had jumped up. We had everything we wanted from the game – the runs, the movement, the ambition.

“And credit to the players too because I said to them at half time if you come in at the end with the same scoreline you’ll be disappointed. I told them, ‘If you don’t push physically then you’ll come back in with the same scoreline’. But they created more opportunities in the second half and I was so, so pleased for the players.”

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Rodgers praised Kelly, who made his mark on his league debut with a goal scored with his less favoured right foot. “He’s a young player that I’ve loved working with since I came back,” he said. “He came with us on pre-season to Portugal and he has this incredible attitude. You can see physically how developed he is – his power, his speed, his touch.

“He is only going to get better and part of the idea and strategy here is to allow these young players to come in and develop.”

Dundee manager Tony Docherty admitted his team were overwhelmed. “We need to take ownership and responsibility for that,” he said. “I am disappointed in our performances against the Old Firm this season – particularly that one tonight – but those won’t define our season.

“What will define our season is the teams round about us and we’ve a game on Saturday against Kilmarnock at Dens Park and it’s really important as a group.”

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