BRENDAN Rodgers hailed the footballing gods following Celtic’s narrow Betfred Cup final win over Aberdeen at Hampden – after Ryan Christie netted the winner against the club who helped him make the breakthrough at Parkhead.

Christie, who has spent the past season and a half on loan at Pittodrie, struck for the defending champions in the fifth minute of added on time at the end of the first-half and his goal ultimately proved decisive.

Rodgers refused to be drawn on the prospect of the double treble winners completing a clean sweep of domestic honours for the third season running after lifting the seventh trophy of his reign. “We haven’t even played the second round of games yet in the league,” he said. “That’s a long, long way away.

But he admitted the fact that Christie was the match winner against opponents who had improved him as a player and had hoped to land him in the close season had been ironic.

“It’s the footballing gods that we saw today,” said Rodgers. “When I came in he wasn’t ready to play week in, week out. We could see there was a talent there, but you need to have that physicality. You need to have that power as well as the quality. He’s always had the quality. I felt he needed to get some games.

“I’ve got good relations with Derek (Aberdeen manager McInnes). We both looked at it and we both felt he still needed to do more in the big games. But there’s absolutely no doubt he went away and got that physicality in body strength and durability in terms of how we want to play and the intensity.

“He came back in the summer and in the last eight or nine weeks he has shown that. It’s fantastic to see his status grow now and in the big games he’s shown really that he has that quality to play for the biggest teams.

“I’m delighted for him. The football gods, lo and behold he scored against the team he was at for 18 months. It was a wonderful finish, a great run off the ball. The keeper made a good save, but he reacts very well to it and finishes it and it ends up being the winner.”

Aberdeen winger Gary Mackay-Steven was stretchered off at the end of the first-half following a clash of heads with Celtic centre half Dedryck Boyata. However, McInnes afterwards revealed he had suffered no serious damage.

“I saw his family down at the dugout and there was an obvious concern there,” he said. “I was told he was unconscious and there was an urgency to get medics onto the park.

“Thankfully he’s sitting up in hospital, getting his tests down and it will be hopefully a straightforward concussion. Obviously he misses the next game but I’m gutted for Gary because he was so looking forward to the opportunity to shine and has been in good form for us.”

McInnes admitted he was unhappy that referee Andrew Dallas had awarded Celtic a penalty in the second-half when Dominic Ball handled outside the Aberdeen area.

He was also incensed the match official failed to show Christie a second yellow card for a foul on Ball

“The penalty decision didn’t do us any real harm, but it wasn’t a penalty in the first place,” he said. “It was clearly outside the box. If we didn’t have a goalie like Joe Lewis it would have been 2-0 and far more difficult.

“I also felt there was another yellow card challenge from Ryan Christie when Dom Ball breaks. The ref said he played the ball when he clearly didn’t. You need a lot of things to go for you in a final and it might sound churlish but a couple of decisions were really harsh on my team today.

“I love Ryan Christie, but it was another yellow card and the referee was in a brilliant position to see that and I don’t understand how he can say he played the ball.”

Meanwhile, McInnes criticised Celtic captain Mikael Lustig for attempting to wind up Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson at the end of the game.

“I just felt it was a bit unnecessary, his reaction to young Lewis,” he said. “A grown man running into Lewis’s face and laughing and all the rest of it.

“We’ve seen players from other clubs being yellow carded for that and a lot made of it. It was just. He was trying to goad young Lewis.

“There was absolutely no need for it. Lewis kept his temperament well. He dealt with it well. If he was trying to get a reaction from Lewis, thankfully young Lewis was the grown up in the whole situation.”