Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hailed his players for making what he described as a near perfect start to the season after a 4-1 win over Aberdeen took them top of the Scottish Premiership.

It capped off a great week for the Scottish champions who clinched a place in the lucrative group stage of the Champions League following a 5-4 aggregate win over Israeli side Hapoel Beer-Sheva on Tuesday.

Rodgers, who replaced Ronny Deila in May, has also helped guide his side to the last eight of the League Cup while winning three out of three in the Premiership to top the table.

And the former Liverpool manager admitted his delight with the way his players have bounced back from the humiliation of a 1-0 defeat to minnows Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar in his first competitive game in charge.

“I think it’s been near-on perfect when you think that we’re into the quarter-final of the League Cup, we’ve qualified for the Champions League and we’ve won three out of three in the League, and they were three tough games,” the Celtic manager said.

“St Johnstone away, Hearts before that and now Aberdeen at home, so it was a tough start and to come out of those games having scored the goals we have is fantastic.

“We’re disappointed in one or two of the goals that we’ve conceded but that will improve and get better.

“I think that the start the players have made has been fantastic.”

Celtic, who have been drawn with Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach in their Champions League group, are now top of the Premiership table, a point clear of Rangers with a game in hand.

– ‘Relentless’ –

Leigh Griffiths fired Celtic into a 13th-minute lead against the Dons with a unstoppable strike but Aberdeen equalised against the run of play through Adam Rooney in the 32nd minute.

A fantastic finish from James Forrest restored Celtic’s advantage before Mark Reynolds saw red for bundling Scott Sinclair off the ball in the box late on. 

The former Manchester City winger fired home from the penalty spot and Australian international Tom Rogic curled home a stoppage time free-kick to seal the win.

On Friday, Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and next up is the first Old Firm clash of the season at Celic Park on September 10. 

“I thought it was arguably our best result of the season just because of everything that has happened before it,” Rodgers said of the Aberdeen game.

“It has been so difficult for the players because of all the travelling they’ve done so I had to freshen it up early in the second half. 

“The impetus this gave us to go on for the final half-hour of the match was really good.

“To end up scoring four goals against a very good side, late on again, really shows the mental and physical fitness of the players. They are relentless at the moment.

“I thought today was a game where they had a choice; they’ve qualified for the Champions League so they might not go in with the same ambition and the same intensity.

“It’s maybe a game they can win but it’s maybe a game they can lose or draw. But if they’re going to be as relentless as we want them to be then you have to go and win this game and I thought they won it very well.”