Rodgers stresses importance of calmness as Celtic go four points clear

The champions will go into the split in pole position after moving four points clear.

Brendan Rodgers stresses importance of calmness after Celtic beat St Mirren to go four points clear SNS Group

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers maintained that calmness was crucial after his side overcame a disappointing first-half display to beat St Mirren 3-0.

The Premiership leaders failed to get a shot at Zach Hemming’s goal before the break and Stephen Robinson’s side had the better openings.

Rodgers has had to deal with troubling first-half displays several times this season and expressed anger at times but went for a calm approach on this occasion to help his players settle their nerves.

Passes were going astray and there was a lack of dynamism before the interval but Celtic came back out with an urgency that helped them take the lead in the 52nd minute through Reo Hatate’s classy finish.

Kyogo Furuhashi and Adam Idah headed home as Celtic thoroughly dominated the second period.

Rodgers said: “You have to get the first goal. Stephen has done a fantastic job with his team so you know you’ll have to be patient and get through a well-drilled defence.

“In the first half, we could have connected the game a bit better.

“We were either too rushed in the final third or we didn’t keep the ball long enough in there. We could have been better.

“We had to find calmness and in the second half we were very good.

“With the first goal, all the players connected. And that opened the game up for us.

“It’s important to have that calmness and the support didn’t get too nervy.

“They stayed with it and got their reward.

“We scored three outstanding goals, different types, and created more chances which could have given us a bigger winning margin.

“Early on St Mirren broke through a few times, which I didn’t like. But we fixed that and the players were excellent.”

Alistair Johnston, who set up two goals, feels Celtic will need to show similar nerve through testing moments in the title run-in.

“It takes big characters out there,” the right-back said. “You can hear the crowd, they want and they expect goals from minute one.

“When that’s not happening, and we’re playing a little off it for the first 45, it’s easy to go into a shell and you’ll get caught up in the emotions of the game.

“But, that’s why it takes a very special player to be able to make it here and stay here. It’s not an easy place to play.

“You have to manage those fan expectations and understand that what they want is always the best for the club. At the same time, as players you sometimes have to put the blinders on and focus on what the task is from the manager.”

St Mirren have had a taste of the top six with defeats against Hearts and Celtic ahead of the split.

But there was plenty to encourage Robinson in the first half before a series of injuries took their toll with Elvis Bwomono, Scott Tanser, Greg Kiltie and Richard Taylor going off.

“You saw the quality and composure we showed on the ball,” Robinson said.

“We’ve evolved as a football side. We were brilliant defensively in the first half with the organisation and shape.

“But the injuries throw you a little bit. You have to be at the top end of your game to beat Celtic and in the second half we just died off a little bit.”

With Rangers losing to Ross County on Sunday, Celtic remain four points clear at the top of the table with their city rivals having a game in hand.

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