Celtic: Captain Scott Brown says fight for final places will keep players motivated

Celtic captain Scott Brown shakes hands with manager Brendan Rodgers
Celtic captain Scott Brown hailed his side's "professional" Scottish Cup semi-final win over Rangers

Captain Scott Brown insists Scottish Cup final starting jerseys are at stake in Celtic's five remaining league fixtures.

Brendan Rodgers' treble-chasing side will face Aberdeen in the showpiece, after booking their return to Hampden Park with a 2-0 win over Rangers.

Celtic have already romped to the Premiership title, and eased past the Dons in November's League Cup final.

"Everyone's playing for a place in the final now," Brown told BBC Scotland.

"We've got five games before that. Aberdeen have done really well to get to the final; they're a great team, but so are we. If we turn up on the day you know what can happen. It showed [against Rangers].

"We fancy our chances in every game, but we need to make sure we keep hitting those heights in the next five."

A dominant first-half display laid the platform for Celtic's fourth victory of the season over their city rivals.

Callum McGregor slotted home a sumptuous finish from the edge of the box, before Scott Sinclair's 51st-minute penalty put the tie beyond Rangers.

The Ibrox side did create a string of final-quarter chances - most falling to Kenny Miller - but Brown says he was never concerned Celtic would let the game slip from their grasp.

"It was a very professional performance from start to finish," he said. "We knew the last five, 10 minutes they were going to put a lot of pressure on us but we dealt with that really, really well, and could have scored a couple more goals.

Leigh Griffiths and Scott Sinclair
Leigh Griffiths earned Celtic a penalty, which Scott Sinclair converted

"It's great pace from Leigh Griffiths for the second goal as well - great ball down the line from Patrick Roberts, wee touch, we got a penalty.

"Sometimes when you're under the cosh and you've got people like Patrick to control the game and Leigh to run in behind - it's a phenomenal feeling and a great win for the fans as well.

"People are scared of our counter attack if they press us high up the park, we've got a lot of pace and people that can pick passes. When you bring on people like Tom Rogic and James Forrest, it shows you what a top quality bench we have got. Everyone's fighting for a first-team place and it's the way it should be at Celtic."

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