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Celtic set new British record with 63 unbeaten domestic matches

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Say what you will about the nature of the Scottish Premiership, but there’s no denying Brendan Rodgers‘ Celtic has achieved quite the feat.

Celtic’s 3-0 win at St. Johnstone means the Bhoys have not lost in 63 matches, a new British record.

[ RECAP: Stoke 2-2 Leicester ]

According to the BBC’s math, Celtic has won 32 games by three or more goals during that stretch, and drawn just seven times.

The hiring of Rodgers was seen as a recipe of entertainment, good or bad, but few expected he’d be this dominant. And Rangers have proven the diagram for winning Scottish titles isn’t not simply about tossing money at big name players (though it certainly helps to be able to spend, as Celtic has).

Here’s Rodgers:

“It’s everything. How and what it stood for before – 100 years – and Celtic holding that British record. It’s an incredible feat by the players and a wonderful example of professionalism.”

To be fair to Rodgers, his personality drove me nuts at Liverpool, but this has been quite a reclamation project (if he needed one). And Jurgen Klopp‘s record at Anfield has been on the same trajectory as Rodgers, so perhaps he needed that just as much.

The next step? Maintain its UEFA Champions League third place lead on Anderlecht and make a decent run in Europa League.

Congrats to Celtic, who’ve topped their own record set in 1917 when Willie Maley was manager.

Rodgers: I feared heart attack after pressure of Liverpool

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It’s hard for many to understand the pressure a manager faces on a daily basis at a big Premier League club, but Brendan Rodgers came close to describing how that pressure, and then the lack of it, manifested itself in his mind.

In an interview with the BBC, the former Liverpool boss revealed he thought he was having a heart attack while on vacation in Dubai, shortly after being sacked as Liverpool manager in October 2015.

[ MORE: Full UCL lineups, stats, box score ]

“There was an incident when I left Liverpool and I went to Dubai a fortnight later,” Rodgers told the BBC. “I lay in fear one day thinking I was having a heart attack – maybe my mum’s condition affected me because she died of one. I was rushed to hospital and basically it was a reaction my body and chest was having in starting to condition itself in terms of not having that pressure.”

Since then, Rodgers has taken over at Celtic and guided the club to a treble, admitting that his experience with Liverpool has forced him to adjust how he deals with pressure.

“That made me sit up and ask myself how do you manage pressure, how to regulate it,” Rodgers said, adding that his mother died of a heart attack and his father died of cancer. “I needed to go and address it. I didn’t I think at the time (of managing Liverpool) there was any more or less pressure because you are so ingrained in it.”

“I felt during that seven-month period (break he took) I needed to reflect and then make sure in my next job that I could learn from the experience. You have got to have your health, happiness and energy back in order to succeed.”

It’s an important lesson for both fans of the game and managers that the pressures involved with playing and managing at the top level are very high, and some can’t deal with the weight of the importance.

UCL wrap: PSG batters Bayern Munich; Man Utd, Chelsea win (video)

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Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League group stage matches saw the Premier League finish the week with four wins and just one draw.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain had it easier than expected against Bayern Munich, while Barcelona found it trickier versus Sporting Lisbon.


Atletico Madrid 1-2 Chelsea

David Luiz was whistled for a push inside the 18, and Antoine Griezmann converted a penalty to put the hosts ahead in Spain. But Eden Hazard set up Alvaro Morata for an equalizer and Michy Batshuayi scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to give Chelsea the honor being just the second team to win a UCL match at Atleti in the last two dozen attempts.

Basel 5-0 Benfica

Michael Lang and Dimitri Oberlin scored within the first 20 minutes as the Swiss hosts took control and a Benfica red card helped the score line get out of control.

CSKA Moscow 1-4 Manchester United

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and Anthony Martial had a goal and two assists as the Red Devils had a pretty east go in Russia. The fourth goal went to Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Anderlecht 0-3 Celtic

Leigh Griffiths bringing his Scottish form to Belgium with a 40th minute goal, and English exports Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair salted away the result with second half goals.

Sporting CP 0-1 Barcelona

Raise your hand if you thought it would take an own goal for Barca to claim three points down the road in Portugal.

Juventus 2-0 Olympiacos

The Greeks kept it close in Turin, but Gonzalo Higuain’s 69th minute goal sent Juve ahead and Mario Mandzukic finished the scoring 11 minutes later.

Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 Bayern Munich

Dani Alves scored in the second minute off a Neymar assist, then Kylian Mbappe cued up Edinson Cavani to give Les Parisiens some comfort. Neymar added a marker in the 63rd minute to call it a day on Carlo Ancelotti’s struggling visitors.

Qarabag 1-2 AS Roma

Qarabag put up a better fight against Roma than it did at Chelsea, but Kostas Manolas and Edin Dzeko has it 2-0 within 16 minutes.

Celtic unbeaten in 10 Old Firm Derbies after win at Rangers

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Celtic made it 10-straight Old Firm Derbies unbeaten with a 2-0 win over Rangers on Saturday at the Ibrox Stadium.

Tom Rogic scored after halftime and Leigh Griffiths added an insurance marker in the 65th minute as traveling Celtic moved five points clear of second-place Aberdeen and eight ahead of the fourth-place ‘Gers.

[ MORE: Neymar out | Marcelo, too ]

The two sides will meet three more times, with only two scheduled so far: Dec. 30 at Celtic Park and March 10 back at the Ibrox.

The Bhoys are unbeaten in 46 league matches and handed Rangers twin 5-1 losses last season amongst a 3W-1D mark in the derby, en route to a Scottish Premiership season without a loss for Brendan Rodgers‘ men.

Kolo Toure retires, joins Celtic coaching staff

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36-year-old defender Kolo Toure announced his retirement on Friday, calling close to a 19-year career that featured stints at Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, and most recently Celtic.

In the same release, the Ivory Coast international also announced he will join the Scottish club as a technical assistant, beginning his coaching career at the club he last played for.

“This is a new chapter in my career, a new beginning. The football is over now,” Toure said to the official Celtic website.  “I can officially say I am retired from playing and now I am fully concentrating on coaching.”

Toure will be working under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic, the man who also brought him to Liverpool in 2013. “This is great news for Celtic that we are able to bring a man of Kolo’s experience into our coaching team,” Rodgers said in the same release. “In everything he does, he is quite simply a fantastic example to anyone.”

“I can learn so much from working with Brendan Rodgers, he is a top manager,” Toure said of his new boss. “I will be working with him and his staff very closely each day. He is one of the best young managers in the world right now. What he’s doing for Celtic is there for all to see, he’s doing amazingly right now.”

The release describes that Toure will be a member of the first-team coaching staff, “supporting on all first-team coaching matters, as well as using his knowledge, experience and expertise to assist across the club’s various youth levels.”