Celtic mentality delights Rodgers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers praised Celtic’s resilience after watching his side come back to draw their Champions League qualifier in Astana.

Leigh Griffiths fired a late equaliser in the first leg in Kazakhstan to take a 1-1 draw[1] to Glasgow next Wednesday.

“It was an outstanding result. We’re disappointed with the goal,” he said.

“But I think after that we showed wonderful mentality in the game to keep fighting. It’s only half-time but it’s a very important result for us.”

With several central defenders missing, the visitors adopted a back three, with 20-year-old Eoghan O’Connell making his European debut.

Yuri Logvinenko headed Astana in front and Craig Gordon made several good saves before Griffths made Celtic’s only shot on target count.

“I think we were all written off before the game,” added Rodgers.

“Everyone was pretty clear in their opinion of the game, that we would do well to come back with anything other than a loss, but the players deserve an immense amount of credit, to fight and show spirit and passion in the game.

“The resilience and strength that we have built up over the course of the pre-season came into effect.

“The players deserve an immense amount of credit to fight and show that spirit and passion in the game and in the second half we gained a bit more control in the game.”

‘Wonderful goal’

Griffiths struck on 78 minutes following good work from Patrick Roberts.

The striker had been starved of service for most of the match but needed just one touch before smashing home a powerful shot.

Leigh Griffiths and his team-mates acknowledge the travelling fans in Astana<!–

“It’s a wonderful goal from Leigh and we know the significance of the goal,” enthused Rodgers.

“We’re not getting too carried away; we’ve got another game against a very good side.”

O’Connell lost Logvinenko from a corner for the hosts’ opener on 19 minutes but Rodgers was full of praise for the young defender.

“I thought he was outstanding,” said the manager. “For a young player, he has been on the fringes for a few years, coming into that environment, under pressure, he had very few mistakes in the game.

“You would expect him to make some as a young player but he coped in a very difficult situation.”

Set-piece weakness

On the poor marking for the Astana goal, he added: “I think there has been an issue there with set-pieces, long before I came in.

“We have lost the man too easy so you put yourself under pressure.

“Over the course of the pre-season, we defended them well in the main but it is an element that we have to be better at and it is something we will reiterate to the players.

“They had to cope with a long ball, they were quite direct at times and a high percentage of times we dealt quite well with it but we need to ensure that our concentration is 100%.”

References

  1. ^ to take a 1-1 draw (www.bbc.co.uk)

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