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Full Time

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

Rodgers slams pitch as his Hoops humble Hearts

Hearts 1 Celtic 3

By Will Jackson

Brendan Rodgers slammed the state of the Tynecastle pitch after seeing his Celtic side come from behind to beat Hearts.

The champions initially struggled to adapt to the surface in Edinburgh, but in the end flexed their muscles to avenge the 4-0 reverse at the ground earlier in the season that ended their historic unbeaten run.

Despite the win, the state of the pitch came in for heavy criticism from Rodgers, who suggested the grass was too long to allow either side to keep the ball on the floor, something which he feels is damaging to the Scottish game.

"I thought the win was outstanding," he said. "But I sit a little bit embarrassed because of the pitch.

"You talk about standards, and this is a great club, Hearts, really passionate, (but) I felt really sorry for both sets of players.

"You saw it early on, the ball got thrown out and it stuck in the grass it was that long.

"It's not just to suit us, I'm talking about football in general. I was disappointed from a footballing perspective.

"It was the first time I said to a team of mine 'building the game from behind is a huge risk because the ball is getting stuck', so at half-time I said we had to play a more direct game, and from there we dominated the game.

"From a football perspective and for the spectators, that wasn't football."

He added: "This is about standards and the product of Scottish football. I'm talking about for the spectators and the young, gifted players in their team who can't dribble or pass the ball properly because of the grass.

"If that's what you want to do, then fine, but it's not football.

"I've been qualified for 20-odd years, I try to develop players and a product and move the game on.

"It was a brilliant win for us, having to cope and play a totally foreign game."

The pitch at Tynecastle has already come in for heavy criticism this season after being badly affected by the weather, and it is set to be dug up and relaid on Thursday, but, despite the conditions, goals from Dedryck Boyata, Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair saw the Hoops claim another convincing win.

Kyle Lafferty had opened the scoring for Hearts with a fiercely struck volley in the 18th minute, but the main bone of contention for Jambos boss Craig Levein was the decision to disallow a goal from John Souttar with the score at 0-0.

He said: "I have no idea why the referee disallows the goal. If anyone is blocking him (goalkeeper Scott Bain), it's his own player.

"I think that's the biggest thing about the match, we were 1-1 when it could have been 2-0 and that would have made a huge difference. It's ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous and I've no idea."

On the debate surrounding the pitch, he added: "There wasn't enough grass on it last time, eh? If they tell me how much they want, we will try and get it right next time!"

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