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RODGERS HAILS 10-MAN WARRIORS

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BRENDAN RODGERS has explained why Celtic were strong and brave enough beat Rangers 3-2 at Ibrox last Sunday.

The champions had to play with 10 men for more than half-an-hour following Jozo Simunovic’s ordering-off and had to battle back twice before Odsonne Edouard sifled in the winner.

Rodgers’s depleted side had to stand up and be counted in the hostile atmosphere of a Glasgow derby in Govan.

The Hoops boss said: “They had 11 players, but we had 10 soldiers who were ready to fight.

“Rangers went down to 10 men and lost 5-1 to us. So, it’s not easy.

“It’s part of the game you have to prepare for. It’s a pressure situation. They have to be able to anticipate it and stay calm.

“I’m not trying to be clever, this is how we work from when I first came in. I like my team to be disciplined.

“We want to win and win in the most sporting way we can.

“We’ve had three cards, two of them are from Willie Collum. Callum McGregor at Hamilton last season was never a sending-off.

“Mikael Lustig had two yellows at Pittodrie so I can see that. There is an argument around Jozo Simunovic at Ibrox, but I would say it was because his arm was bent. I think the linesman couldn’t wait to give it and that’s not his job.

“His job is to assist in the decision, not to make it, and I think it was pretty clear he made the decision. But however it comes, deserved or not, you have to be ready as a team.

“And I think my team showed they were absolutely ready for it.”

Rodgers reckons his players will need to answer another challenge against Motherwell at Fir Park tomorrow afternoon.

He added: “Stephen Robinson has done a great job. He kept them up last year and took them to a League Cup Final this year and made them competitive.

“All the games have been tough. He maximises what he can out the players.

“It’s a tight ground and it will be a hard game.”

Tomorrow will see the fourth encounter between the teams this season. Goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele gave the champions a 2-0 win in the League Cup Final on November 26 and the sides drew 1-1 three days later.

Mikael Lustig put through his own goal to hand the hosts the advantage, but Scott Sinclair levelled with a late penalty-kick.

The following weekend, Celtic blitzed Well 5-1 with on-loan frontman Edouard claiming a hat-trick and substitute Forrest hitting the other two.

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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