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Brendan Rodgers’ words had the desired effect on his Celtic side as they cleaned up the first-half mess they had left behind in Perth on Sunday afternoon.

But Callum McGregor, whose goal was the catalyst for the comeback, has revealed that the stinging criticism will resonate within the dressing room for the next few days.

“As a professional you never want to be called soft,” he said. “That will sit with the players in three, four, five days’ time because nobody likes to get a sore one off the manager.

“We have to take it on the chin and we deserved it.

“But we don’t want to be doom and gloom. We rectified it and when you’re a team that sets high standards and drop below it then it’s the manager’s job to tell you then the players job to fix it.

“The gaffer was spot on in terms of what he said. He was looking for a reaction and the pleasing thing was we rectified it and won the game.

“It’s important we keep winning.

“You never want to be soft. That’s the one thing when you’re a good football team and people try to look for areas to exploit then the last thing as a professional footballer you want to be called is soft.

“That hurts the group. We can’t have too many moments like that because you’ll see teams will try to play on it.

“We’ve got to be better and stronger in those moments especially when we are defending the box.”

McGregor’s goal was his first this season – and his first since May – and was desperately needed as the minutes started to tick away for Celtic.

“I knew I was going to hit it on the half volley as soon as it dropped,” he said. “It’s one of those you have to shoot. I caught it clean and knew as soon as I hit it it had a chance. 

“It was a good strike and I was glad to see it going in.

“I thought the second half we looked much more like ourselves in terms of the intent and aggression we played with. We started the half well and the goal was coming but needed something like that or a bit of luck.

“You see the fans get a lift and the players get a lift and performance levels go up another notch.

“Two other brilliant finishes from Matt [O’Riley] and James [Forrest] takes the game away.”

“Hopefully when we get to the end of the season we look back on this 45 minutes as an important one. We had the strength of character to go out and rectify it. 

“Every game is important, every half of football is important and we have to stay in that mindset.”


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