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Five-star Celtic haven't hit top gear yet, warns boss Brendan Rodgers

Celtic 5-0 Motherwell

By Ronnie Espin

Published 11/08/2016

Spot on: Celtic's Moussa Dembele scores his side's second goal of the game from the penalty spot
Spot on: Celtic's Moussa Dembele scores his side's second goal of the game from the penalty spot

Brendan Rodgers claimed Celtic still have improvements to make after turning on the style with a 5-0 thrashing of Motherwell in their Betfred Cup clash.

Striker Moussa Dembele and midfielder Tom Rogic helped themselves to a brace apiece while forward Scott Sinclair notched on his Parkhead debut to set up a home game against League One side Alloa in the quarter-finals.

On the draw, the Hoops boss said: “As long as it was a home draw, no matter who it is.

“We love to play here and I sense the players are excited about being here. I certainly am, but we will respect Alloa like we will any other team.”

Discussing his side’s progress since he took over from Ronny Deila in the summer which manifested itself in a thumping of Well, the former Liverpool boss said: “We still have a way to go.

“We can still be better at times, I said that to the players afterwards. But what is pleasing is that (after) they showed that resilience on Sunday (to beat Hearts 2-1), tonight there was a wonderful football demonstration but also a real aggression in the game in terms of our intensity to win the ball.

“But we still have a way to go, we won’t get carried away. It is still very, very early and if I can get one or two in before the window shuts I would be very, very happy and that would set us up for the rest of the season.”

Ulsterman Rodgers praised midfielder Rogic, who signed a new three-year contract on Tuesday, and winger James Forrest, who also agreed a new deal earlier in the day which ties him to the club until 2019.

He said: “I think you have seen with both those players the level they were at. James with his pressing to get the ball, his movement with the ball and Rogic looks a wonderful footballer.

“He is an Australia international and has a lot of injuries but we hope he can stay fit because you can see his quality.

“For James it is about consistency. I think everyone can see he clearly has talent. If he can play to the level I think he can play at I certainly want him here.

“When you see him in the mood he was in tonight, he is a real help to the team.”

After coming off the bench to score the winner against Hearts on Sunday hours after his move from Aston Villa, Sinclair was impressive as he notched again on his home debut.

Rodgers said: “I think he will be a joy to watch for the Celtic supporters home and away.

“You have a Premier League player who has decided to come up to love his football and enjoy it again. He was outstanding.”

Meanwhile, Niall McGinn’s winner edged Aberdeen into the Betfred Cup quarter-finals as Derek McInnes’ nervy Dons claimed a 2-1 win over Ayr at Somerset Park.

• Rangers will also play at home in the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup following their 5-0 victory over Peterhead on Tuesday.

Mark Warburton’s men will host Ladbrokes Championship club Queen of the South. The only all-Ladbrokes Premiership match of the last eight sees St Johnstone travel to Aberdeen.

Morton will host fellow Championship side Dundee United in the other quarter-final.

Ties to be played on September 20 and 21.

Belfast Telegraph

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