BRENDAN RODGERS is looking forward to returning to Parkhead on Saturday to face Premiership pacesetters Kilmarnock.
The Celtic boss was disappointed to see his side drop two points in last night’s 1-1 draw with Motherwell at Fir Park – the champions’ FIFTH successive game away from home.
The Hoops last performed in the east end of Glasgow in the 2-1 Europa League victory over Bundesliga big-spenders RB Leipzig on November 8.
Since that memorable evening, Rodgers has taken his side to Livingston (0-0), Hamilton Accies (3-0), Rosenborg (1-0) and Hampden on Sunday where they beat Aberdeen 1-0 to lift the Irishman’s seventh successive piece of silverware in his two-and-a-half-year reign as boss.
He made seven changes to his line-up from the team that overcame the Dons with Leigh Griffiths making his first start since the 6-0 hammering of St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on October 7.
CRASH…Ryan Christie blasts Celtic into an early lead with Carl McHugh too late to intercept.
Unfortunately, the 28-year-old striker couldn’t mark the occasion and, in fact, squandered a first-half penalty-kick when Mark Gillespie blocked the original effort and punched away the rebound before the frontman could atone.
Jonny Hayes also made a rare first-team appearance while Costa Rican international Cristian Gamboa got a run at right-back with Mikael Lustig rested.
However, the team failed to spark, despite an early strike from Ryan Christie although they were denied what looked like a perfectly good goal from Filip Benkovic which was ruled out by referee Kevin Clancy.
Danny Johnson netted the equaliser in the 88th minutes with a low angled drive that scorched past Craig Gordon and crashed into the net off the inside of the far post.
BANG…Leigh Griffiths fires in a powerful penalty-kick which was saved by Mark Gillespie.
Rodgers said: “It wasn’t a very good performance. It was a game we didn’t play very well in.
“We scored a good goal in the first-half, had a chance we didn’t take from a penalty and then had a goal ruled out from Filip Benkovic.
“If you don’t take opportunities in the game, then you leave yourself vulnerable at the end. It was a disappointing goal to concede, so it was definitely two points lost.
“We knew what we were going to get and any threat that they were going to have. We dealt with that in the main very well. Craig had hardly anything to do. From our perspective it was poor.
“We didn’t win the second and third ball and they scored from a very narrow angle, so it was a disappointing goal for us to concede.
“We just made too many mistakes. We’ll get back again and recover. It’s disappointing to concede the late goal, but we’re looking forward to playing at home. It seems like ages since we’ve been at Celtic Park.”
WALLOP…Filip Benkovic beat Tom Aldred to sent the ball into the Well net – but referee Kevin Clancy ruled it out. Pics: Geo.
Rodgers defended his decision to shake up the formation and added: “You can’t go through a season with 11 players, so we made the changes.
“We have players injured, too, so it was what we had to do. It’s good for me to have a look and see the level that some of them are at.
“Jonny Hayes did great. He hasn’t played for a little bit of time, but his thrust, his energy and his pressing was good. He showed moments of quality, having not played for a while.
“But for us, and the level we’ve been at, it wasn’t so good.”