Celtic defeated Aberdeen 3-0 at Celtic Park this afternoon, extending their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table to eight points.
In the opening stages of the game there were opportunities for both sides, although it was The Bhoys to break the deadlock after 39 minutes through Mikael Lustig. The Swede’s deflected effort proved too much for Joe Lewis as it struck the top-right corner.
After the interval, The Hoops hunted for a second and a few chances came their way, before Hayes fired home from inside the six-yard box after 68 minutes.
Olivier Ntcham trebled the scoreline eight minutes later, as he intercepted a poor pass-back, rounded the goalkeeper, and slotted into the net.
Brendan Rodgers reflected on the result, speaking to the media after the full-time whistle.
It was a very convincing win I felt. The first half was a battle as you would expect. Aberdeen are a good side and they showed that over the course of the last performance.
Second half I thought we were outstanding. The positioning allowed us to have greater longer periods with the ball. We were pressing higher up the field and it allowed us to create more opportunities.
It was a very good win and a clean sheet. Some of our players who came into the team today were outstanding.
The Gaffer proceeded to praise Hayes, who scored his first competitive goal in Hoops against his former club.
He’s a young Irishman who knows what it means to be from Ireland and support Celtic. But to play for Celtic and get your first goal for Celtic, especially against your old club, is a really special day for him.
We’ve come into these last two games and scored five goals and kept a clean sheet. I think what was really impressive today was our physicality.
Hayes also spoke to the media, saying:
It was a tale of two halves today. The first half was a physical battle and in the second half we showed how good we are on the ball and at keeping possession, and we could have scored a couple more.
It was more about the three points today. I know it’s a cliche but we have that togetherness and experience in that dressing room.
Regardless of whether you are playing or not, everyone wants each other to do well and getting three points today was the most important thing coming up to Christmas.
The manager said he wanted us to send a full-house home happy before Christmas and also to establish a lead at the top.
Celtic are three points closer to securing a seventh Scottish Premiership title in a row.
They will look to build on today’s result with another victory, away to Dundee on Boxing Day. Kick-off is 12:30 at Dens Park.