Win gives Brendan Rodgers a Celtic record as he praises players' mental fitness

By Joe McHugh

Brendan Rodgers praised his players mental fitness following their 1-0 win over Hamilton Accies at Celtic Park.

A 36th minute goal from Leigh Griffiths was enough to secure full points and send Celtic 11 points clear of second-placed Rangers at the top of the SPFL with two games in hand.

It wasn't a vintage display by the hoops as they missed a handful of good chances early in the second half then had to deal with some pressure from Hamilton in the last 10 minutes.

With their lead now stretched to double figures most Celtic fans are looking to celebrate New Year with a 20-point lead over Rangers following a visit to Ibrox on December 31.

Rodgers' side have got a nine-match schedule to get through during December before they enjoy a three-week winter break with the strain of that programme showing in last night's display.

After the win Rodgers said: “At 1-0 the game should have been over, we had enough chances but we saw it through.

“I think that the mental fitness is very important, you think of the number of games that they've played, the level that they've played at.

“Our last game at Partick they got to some impressive levels in the second half. Tonight they never really reached that but it was more about mental fitness. You like to play beautiful football, fast flowing football with goals but you can't always do that.

“When you can't you still want to win and it shows the mark of this team that they can get through it with the end result of a victory.”

With their heavy schedule in mind Rodgers replaced Gary Mackay-Steven and Emilio Izaguirre with Moussa Dembele and Callum McGregor.

There has been a clamour to play Dembele and Griffiths together in a variation from Rodgers' preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, but neither striker was on form although they did combine for the goal scored by the former Hibs striker.

The win was Rodgers 19th domestic match without defeat, a new record for an incoming manager.

Martin O'Neill held the previous record which came to a halt with a 5-1 defeat away to Rangers in November 2000 - a result Rodgers will be keen to avoid at the end of this month.

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