BRENDAN Rodgers last night defended the conduct of his Celtic players in the wake of their Betfred Cup final triumph - and aimed a thinly-veiled dig at his Aberdeen counterpart Derek McInnes for his behaviour at Hampden on Sunday.

Both McInnes, the Pittodrie manager, and Graeme Shinnie, his captain and midfielder, were critical of how Scott Brown and Mikael Lustig, the Parkhead players, acted towards the end of the game.

McInnes confronted Lustig on the pitch after his team had lost a fiercely-contested game 1-0 and accused him of trying to wind up Lewis Ferguson, his 19-year-old midfielder.

Shinnie, who has had a feud with Brown since the final league game of last season and refused to shake his opponent’s hand following the final whistle, afterwards accused both Celtic players of lacking class.

But Lustig later claimed that he was actually shouting at McInnes – who he said had mouthed off at him during the game – and Rodgers suggested that his opposite number had to accept that reaction after his actions.

“It is disappointing,” he said. “I didn’t see Mikael goad the boy Ferguson at all. I watched the game back when I went home. I don’t think there was any goading.

“If you look at us as a team and you look at our records, we are a very sporting team.. The players’ record from a discipline perspective is exemplary. So I can’t agree with that. I don’t go down the route that we lack any of those qualities. It is not something I would agree with.”

Rodgers added: “For some players, they will give it out and you have to be ready to take it.

“I also say that if you are a manager on the side of the field, and I say this generically, who gets involved with players if something comes back to you then you have to be ready to take that.”