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Rodgers proud as punch of treble-chasing Celtic

Glasgow (AFP) – Brendan Rodgers spoke of his pride in his players as he moved to within touching distance of becoming only the third Celtic manager to claim a domestic treble for the Scottish giants.

With the League Cup and Scottish Premiership title already wrapped up, Celtic face Aberdeen on May 27 in the Scottish Cup final following a 2-0 semi-final win over Old Firm rivals Rangers on Sunday.

Callum McGregor fired them into an early lead before Scott Sinclair added a second from the penalty spot six minutes after the break in a dominant display by Celtic.

“I thought we played absolutely brilliant in the game. It was everything you would want from your team to play in terms of composure, temperament and technical quality,” said Rodgers, who could join legendary Celtic managers Jock Stein and Martin O’Neill in leading Celtic to a treble.

“To play a Celtic Rangers game to that level and that quality makes me very proud of the team.

“We restricted Rangers to very few opportunities and the only disappointment was we didn’t score more.

“Today was about the collective — from the goalkeeper right the way through to the guys on the bench.

“I really enjoyed watching the team. I thought we looked a real powerful, top quality side today.”

The win meant they gained a measure of revenge for last year’s semi-final defeat at their bitter rivals hands which led to then Celtic manager Ronny Deila’s departure.

“Obviously 12 months on from where they were last year really shows the level they have gone to, so I’m very pleased,” Rodgers, whose side are chasing a record-extending 37th Scottish Cup win, added.

“I’m happy for the supporters. They had a tough one here last year and you can see their joy and happiness and when it’s like that it makes us all happy.”

Rodgers has enjoyed a superb debut season in Scottish football with his side now undefeated domestically in 41 matches this season.

But the former Liverpool boss claims he isn’t surprised at being on the verge of a historic season.

“It might have been different if you had asked me after the Gibraltar game [a 1-0 Champions League qualifying defeat to Lincoln Red Imps]. I knew I had a bit of work on my hands after that,” Rodgers joked 

– ‘Real historic season’ –

“When you come to Celtic you are here to win and you are here to perform.

“There is always expectancy at a club like Celtic. I have enjoyed that element of it.

“But what’s important is that you see progress. We’re still a way from where I would want us to be, but there’s been real good signs throughout the course of the season.

“We’re one game away from a real historic season, but we’ve still got a few games to play before that.”

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha, in his first Old Firm match in charge, felt his side showed Celtic too much respect.

“By respecting the opponent we dropped off too much on the park — it was not what we preparing for during the week,” said Caixinha.

“We could not do it. We were expecting more from our team. The way we prepared the game and the way we performed in the game were totally different.

“I think they deserved to win but we could have done, and should have done, much better.”

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