Ian Rutherford

'Certainly in our lifetimes it won't be done again': Rodgers pays tribute to remarkable Celtic run

Hearts ended the club’s 69-game unbeaten stretch on Sunday.

BRENDAN RODGERS CLAIMED Celtic’s achievements may never be repeated after their record-breaking 69-match undefeated run in Scottish football came to a stunning end with a 4-0 hammering at Hearts.

The Scottish champions arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday having gone 585 days without defeat since St Johnstone claimed a 2-1 victory back on May 2016.

However, first-half goals from Harry Cochrane and Kyle Lafferty, coupled with a second-half brace from Manuel Milinkovic, helped Hearts to their biggest victory over the Glasgow giants since 1895.

It was the first taste of Scottish defeat for Rodgers, who has won four successive trophies since arriving at Celtic Park last year, as his side also failed to score for the first time in 74 domestic matches.

But the Northern Irishman, whose side eclipsed their own British record when they reached 63 matches without defeat last month, revealed his pride in his players’ historic run.

“I need to give credit to Hearts on their victory, it was thoroughly deserved,” Rodgers said.

“But I also want to say congratulations to my players.

“Of course it’s a sore one, especially when you’re beaten like that, but they can hold their heads up. They’ve been absolutely amazing in those 18 months.

“To go 69 games undefeated, no matter what level or competition, is a remarkable achievement and the players will go down in history because I’m not sure it will be done again.

“Certainly in our lifetimes it won’t be done and they can take huge pride in that.

It’s in the past now and one of the key things with success is looking forward. They’ll go into the history books and we’ll reflect on the game tomorrow and look to find the solutions to be better in our next game.”

Despite their painful loss, Celtic remain two points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, who won 4-1 at home to Hibernian on Saturday, with a game in hand.

And Rodgers — whose side face a tough run of four games in 13 days including matches against Aberdeen and Old Firm rivals Rangers — backed his players to bounce back to winning ways when they host Partick Thistle on Wednesday.

“We did our very best and unfortunately for us our best wasn’t good enough. We will need to learn from the game and look to win the next one,” he said.

“Now we focus on these last games through to the end of the year. They’re going to be important for us.”

Victory keeps Craig Levein’s Hearts fifth, but closes the gap on city rivals Hibernian to three points ahead of their derby on December 27.

“It’s up there with the best moments I’ve experienced,” admitted former Scotland boss Levein, who replaced Ian Cathro as manager in late August.

“All credit to Celtic, to go this far without losing a match in the league or cups in Scotland is quite remarkable.

“I am probably even prouder of my players because we have managed to break that run.

“We went toe-to-toe with them, and came out on top.”

© AFP 2017

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The wonderful story of Hearts’ 16-year-old and his superb performance against Celtic

Glasgow hearts sink in Edinburgh as Celtic’s historic unbeaten run comes to an end

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