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Celtic away form as impressive as Liverpool, says Rodgers

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his players showed they have the mentality to handle the big games as they turned on the style in a 3-0 win over nearest challengers Aberdeen on Wednesday.

Much had been made of the test Celtic would face from the Dons, with only goal difference separating the sides at the top of the Scottish Premiership before kick-off.

However, the Hoops made light work of their hosts with Kieran Tierney’s first league goal of the season giving them a 13th minute lead.

The 21-year-old then turned provider for Dembele to tap in his first in the 39th minute before the French striker nodded home a second from close range in the 63rd minute.

It was a real show of strength from the Scottish champions which extends their unbeaten domestic run to 61 matches and sends them three points clear at the top.

“Tactically they are improving. Over the course of the 16 months we have been here, what I have been pleased with is the mentality in the big games,” Rodgers said of his side.

“We’ve got big players who can perform well in big games and they have the confidence to play.

“You see it right through from the goalkeeper to the subs bench. They understand how we work, they deal with the pressure of having the ball and they performed exceptionally well.

“I think to come to Pittodrie and to play that well where Aberdeen have had 10 days to prepare for the game shows that our boys are continually focused on winning games.”

And Rodgers, who previously managed Swansea and Liverpool in the Premier League, hailed the Hoops’ dominant display as one of the best away performances of his managerial career.

“Obviously everyone was talking about the pressure of the game between the top teams, so to come away and play with that composure and quality in our game was absolutely fantastic,” the Celtic boss said.

“It was an outstanding display against a very good team. I’ve been away with a few teams like Swansea where home and away we were brilliant in terms of our football, and Liverpool as well.

“But I feel really proud of the team tonight showing that composure, that level of tactical understanding and their positioning. We should have had five or six goals.

“Defensively we were very strong and we virtually gave Aberdeen nothing so I am very proud of the performance.”

It was a first defeat of the season for Aberdeen and manager Derek McInnes admitted the match had been tough for him to watch.

“We got a lesson and Celtic were very good from the first minute to the last minute,” McInnes admitted.

“I actually don’t think whatever system or whatever personnel we went with tonight would have made a difference as when Celtic are in that frame of mind and have that sort of movement then they can do that to any team.”

Elsewhere, pressure continues to mount on Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha after Kilmarnock sealed a 1-1 draw following a dramatic finish at Ibrox. Jason Holt gave Rangers a first half lead before Jamie MacDonald saved Daniel Candeia’s last minute penalty. 

The Gers were reduced to 10 men as Ryan Jack saw red following a scuffle with Killie’s Kirk Broadfoot prior to the penalty being taken before Chris Burke grabbed an equaliser four minutes into stoppage time

The result sees Rangers drop to fourth following Motherwell’s 1-0 win over Dundee.

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