Brendan Rodgers claimed he had never been so angry as a manager after watching Celtic‘s “soft” first-half performance in the 3-1 comeback win in the Premiership St Johnstone.
Celtic trailed at half-time after conceding from a corner for the second weekend in a row. Diallang Jaiyesimi got the finishing touch as the champions struggled with Graham Carey’s assist.
David Turnbull had Celtic’s only shot on goal in the first half as the Saints threatened to take further points from the league leaders after a goalless draw with Parkhead in August. With Mikey Johnston coming on for Yang Hyun-jun, the visitors were in a much better position after the break. Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley scored powerful goals before substitute James Forrest scored on the counter-attack in stoppage time after Jay Turner-Cooke had gone close at the other end.
But Rodgers said: “If I’m honest I’m still angry. The first half was nowhere near what you would expect from a Celtic player and team. Just the intensity and ambition in the game, the speed, which we absolutely couldn’t match. We were bullied for the goal and were soft on everything, with and without the ball. The half-time break was the angriest I’ve ever experienced as a manager.
“People who have been around me know that I am usually very calm. It wasn’t about tactics, it was about desire and what it takes to play for this club. Luckily the players were brilliant in the second half. Callum McGregor was outstanding and I got more of the energy and ambition that I wanted.
“It was what I expected in the first half. We had played a game and a half and not scored a goal against St Johnstone without a lot of respect. Craig (Levein) organized his team well and they scored their goal from a set piece where we were too weak. I expect much more from us.
“The second half was a real testament to the players because they could have given up and been nervous but they performed to the level that I ask of them. Those were fantastic goals and we could have achieved more. It’s a reminder that if you’re soft and timid against a team, you can hurt a team.”
An Abdallah Sima did it twice ranger back to winning ways with a 2-0 win St Mirren at Ibrox.
Philippe Clement’s side had drawn against Aris Limassol and Aberdeen in their last two games and the Brighton-on-loan striker quelled growing frustration in the stands when he scored just before half-time to break the deadlock for the unimpressive home side.
The Light Blues grew stronger in the second half and Sima grabbed a second goal with a fine finish in the 70th minute to take his tally for the season to 11, with Rangers moving to eight points behind leaders Celtic with a game in hand.
Clement has extended his unbeaten run to 10 games since taking over but will demand a lot more from his side if they are to topple the champions.
Goalkeeper David Marshall put in an impressive performance Hibernian defeated Aberdeen 2-0 at Easter Road and three wins after the game.
Striker Dylan Vente got the hosts on their way with his first goal since September before Will Fish sealed the points with a second-half header and strengthened the Edinburgh side in fifth place.
Hibs were indebted to former Scotland goalkeeper Marshall, who made a number of key saves, including a Bojan Miovski penalty, to leave the frustrated Dons just three points behind in 10th place.