Aberdeen 1-3 Celtic: We stood up to 'long-ball' Dons, claims Brendan Rodgers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers and his players are now only one goal short of their target of 100 league goals

Brendan Rodgers praised his players for meeting the challenge of Aberdeen's "long-ball football" as Celtic reached 100 points with a 3-1 win at Pittodrie.

"Aberdeen are a very direct team," said Scotland's manager of the year.

"There is no real sequence of passes. The ball from behind is in the air, the ball down the sides is in the air, so you're having to deal with a lot of long-ball football.

"I'm very proud of the team, how they stood up to it."

In an astonishing start to the final league meeting between the teams who will contest the Scottish Cup final on 27 May, Celtic fired in three goals in the opening 11 minutes.

Dedryck Boyata's third-minute header, Stuart Armstrong's side-footer five minutes later and Leigh Griffiths' strike from outside the box looked to have all but sealed a 44th domestic match unbeaten for the league champions.

However, Jonny Hayes immediately curled a shot beyond Craig Gordon to spark life into the Dons as they looked to end Celtic's run of three league wins and one League Cup final victory over them this season.

The Celtic players celebrate at full-time
The Celtic players celebrate their fourth league win over Aberdeen of the season

Rodgers acknowledged that Hayes' goal had given the hosts "momentum" but added: "It wasn't a pretty game but it showed we had the courage to stand up to it and get the result. We showed a different side of our game tonight.

"It was an outstanding defensive performance, not one of our better football performances, but sometimes it is very difficult to do that, when a team is constantly going long with it.

"When we came here earlier in the season we had to cope with similar, the direct ball from behind.

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Aberdeen 1-3 Celtic: Derek McInnes and Brendan Rodgers post-match interviews

"They don't really construct the game and build it. It's a long ball forward, on to the sides and get the crosses into the box.

"It's a different way totally from how we will play the game but it's a game we have to play against and defend."

Prior to the match, the Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes had intimated that, with captain Ryan Jack absent from midfield, his team "might have to bypass the midfield area and get to Celtic a bit quicker".

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