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  • Manager proud of his players as Celtic march on in Europe

    Manager proud of his players as Celtic march on in Europe

    By: Mark Henderson on 18 Jul, 2018 23:01

  • BRENDAN Rodgers was proud of his players after Celtic booked a meeting with Norwegian side Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round following a 6-0 aggregate victory over FC Alashkert.

    Leading 3-0 from the first-leg, the Hoops quickly ended any lingering hopes of the Armenian side with three first-half goals in front of an excellent crowd in Paradise. Moussa Dembele bagged a brace, the second from the penalty spot following a foul on Odsonne Edouard, and James Forrest finished off a brilliant breakaway in clinical style.

    And they remained in complete control of the contest, creating a number of other goalscoring opportunities, despite being playing 80 minutes of the match with 10 men aftter the controversial sending off of Jozo Simunovic.

    Asked what he thought of the performance after the game, the Celtic manager said: “I thought it was very good. When we had 11 men, I thought we looked really bright going forward, the speed of our game was good, and we looked a real threat.

    “We took the lead and very soon after that we lost a man. In our defensive organisation, we were very calm, organised and pressed at the right moments.

    “We dominated the game, considering we had 10 men, so I’m really proud of the team. We had the advantage coming into the game and we strengthened that, but it’s still a challenge to play that long with 10 men and the players coped with that very well.”

    Simunovic was given his marching orders after raising his boot in a challenge with Jefferson Reis in the 10th minute and the Hoops boss felt it was a harsh decision. He also praised his charges for how they reacted in that position of adversity.

    “I think it’s one of those ones in European football, it’s always difficult when your foot is that high,” he said. “I thought the referee could have kept him on the pitch and gave him a warning as I don’t think it’s intentional.

    “The ball has popped back at him quickly and he’s just obviously raised his boot which caught the player. I think it was actually the same player who caught Kieran Tierney in the face. It was one of those things we had to deal with it and thankfully the players anticipate these situations and know how to cope with it and they did that very well.”

    Brendan Rodgers also revealed that Moussa Dembele, who terrorised the Alashkert defence throughout the evening with his power and pace, would be assessed over the coming days by the club’s medical staff after leaving the pitch in discomfort in the second half.

    “He was tight in the back of his leg and we just need to assess it tomorrow and over the next couple of days," the manager said. "He’s as fit as he’s been since I’ve been here at this stage of the season, so we’re hoping it’s just a tightness and he’ll be okay.”

    The Scottish champions will host Rosenborg next Wednesday in the first-leg, before travelling to Trondheim for the return match the following week. It will be a repeat of last season’s third qualifying round clash, in which the Celts prevailed 1-0 on aggregate thanks to a superb James Forrest strike in Norway. The manager expects another tough test this time around.

    “For sure, they were two tight games the last time we played," he said. "They’ll come here and I’m sure they’ll be nice and compact like they did last year, very tight lines, and we’ll have to be patient in that game. It’ll be a tough game out there. But it’s a tie we look forward to.

    “Whoever you get at this stage of the season, you have to respect who you play, and we’ll be another week forward in our fitness.”

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