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  • Brendan Rodgers: I'm so proud of players for reaching last 32

    Brendan Rodgers: I'm so proud of players for reaching last 32

    By: Paul Cuddihy on 13 Dec, 2018 23:31

  • BRENDAN Rodgers congratulated his players for their performances over the six games of their Europa League group-stage campaign, which saw the Hoops qualify for the last 32 of the competition, knocking out top German Bundesliga side, RB Leipzig in the process.

    Celtic’s qualification came despite a 2-1 home defeat to FC Salzburg, with Rosenborg picking up their first point of the group with an unexpected 1-1 draw in Germany to ensure the Hoops finished second in the group.

    Despite the loss on the night, Paradise still celebrated come the final whistle, and the Celtic manager explained that his team deserve their place in the knockout stages of the competition for their displays throughout the campaign.

    Speaking after the game, the Hoops boss said: “This campaign was over six games, so to finish in a really tough group with nine points and qualify is a huge achievement.

    “The best team won tonight. Salzburg were good, dynamic, and sharp, with some really good players. We didn't play well but we showed over the six games that we can play well and we played well in enough of the games to get the points in a very tough group.

    “You have, effectively, two Champions League teams in Salzburg and Leipzig, with their investment and everything that goes into their organisations. So for us to come out on top against a high-ranking team in Leipzig, from one of the top European leagues, is another big step in the progress of our players.

    “There is still so much for them to learn and improve but, year on year, they’re getting better and better and to qualify for the last 32 is a brilliant achievement for us.”

    With Celtic trailing 2-0 to FC Salzburg, a massive roar from the Hoops support was an indication that something momentous had happened elsewhere, and the news of Rosenborg’s equaliser quickly filtered through the crowd.

    The Celtic players, meanwhile, continued to press forward in search of a way back into the game which came from an Olivier Ntcham penalty, and though the final result was a defeat on the night, the ultimate feeling was one of quiet satisfaction that European football after Christmas had been delivered for a second consecutive season.

    “It was a strange one,” the manager said. “You’re always looking at your own team and their performance and, of course, it gets to 2-0 and you hear a cheer.

    “I knew something was going on because of the celebration but it just great to get through - that was the whole objective. It doesn't really matter how you do it. We will look forward to the draw now, and I’m sure it will be a tough team who we get.”

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