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We kept out nerve, says proud Celtic manager Rodgers

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised his players for remaining calm under pressure as they came from behind to defeat Rangers 2-1 in the Old Firm derby at Ibrox.

Celtic fell behind for just the third time this season to an early Kenny Miller goal before French striker Moussa Dembele grabbed the equaliser with his fifth goal in three games against Rangers.

Scott Sinclair then scored a second half winner to fire Celtic to their 15th league victory in a row and end Rangers’ 15 month unbeaten record at Ibrox.

“I thought our quality, intensity of our game and our fitness really came through in the second half but we still have to find solutions in every game no matter who we play,” said Rodgers, whose side thrashed Rangers 5-1 in their opening meeting back in September.

“We stayed very calm and once we got the goal I thought we played our way back into the game again.

“We looked a real threat every time we went forward. We looked like we could score, we created opportunities and I’m disappointed probably just to have two goals.

“We talked beforehand about dealing with pressure and finding solutions for that if we went behind in the game.

“I think this team are finding solutions all the time and showed immense character today to come here – where a team is confident playing at home – and to perform like that.”

– Winter break –

The win moves them 19 points clear of their bitter rivals in second place with a game in hand and extends their unbeaten run to 24 domestic matches since the start of the season as they close in on the 26 game unbeaten start made by the European Cup winning Celtic side of 1966/67 season.

The Scottish Premiership will now take a three-week winter break and Rodgers hailed his players for their outstanding first half of the season.

“If you’re never beaten you’ve got to go right to the end and I thanked them for that, irrespective of what the result had been today,” said the former Liverpool boss, whose side have also lifted the League Cup.

“It’s been a huge achievement for them in this opening period of games especially this month.

“They’ve won eight and drawn away at Manchester City in the Champions League so I think everyone would commend them for what a great effort it’s been.

“Now we’ve got to go away and we’ve got to rest for a week. Then we’ll come back together again and we’ll work really hard for a couple of weeks on making things better in the team.

“Hopefully in the second part of the season we’ll be even stronger,” added the 43-year-old Northern Irishman.

His Ranger counterpart Mark Warburton, who watched his side lose to Celtic for the third time this season, said he wasn’t overly concerned by the massive gap that separates them from their Glasgow rivals.

Rangers hold a two point advantage over Aberdeen, who beat Hearts 1-0 on Friday.

“I’m not worried about that,” said Warburton.

“My intention is to take this football club as far as I possibly can and get European football and then kick on again.

“We have to be together as team and that was a big learning curve for us today. We’ve got to be better that.

“We’ve had some very good chances as the game went on. It’s about the fine margins and taking your chances when they come along.

“We’ve got to learn from this. They boys have got a well-deserved break now to recharge their batteries but we’ll need to come back and have a very strong second half of the season.

“We just got promoted last year and we’re second, but of course we want to go higher than that,” added the 54-year-old Englishman.

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