Celtic improving among European elite – Rodgers


Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side can stay involved in European football after Christmas

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side’s display in losing 2-1 to Bayern Munich shows they are improving at European football’s elite level.

Bayern’s 2-1 win at Celtic Park sent the Scottish side out of the Champions League, but Celtic can still qualify for the Europa League.

“We want to get there playing a level of football that can allow you to go as far as you possibly can,” Rodgers said.

“We showed in our performance that we’re improving at the highest level.”

Bayern opened the scoring in Glasgow when Kingsley Coman took advantage of Dedryck Boyata’s failure to head clear a long ball.

Although Craig Gordon was adamant Coman used his hand as he steered the ball past the Celtic goalkeeper, no foul was awarded and the Bayern striker finished calmly.

The mistake frustrated Rodgers, as his side had been playing with good intensity and passing range.

Craig Gordon was adamant Kingsley Coman handled in the build up to the opening goal

“We’ve got to deal with it. We got good pressure on the goalkeeper, positioning is good on our defensive line and we’ve got to head it, it’s as simple as that,” the Celtic manager said.

“I’m more disappointed we didn’t deal with the header. It comes through and I haven’t seen it, so not sure if it was a handball or not.

“It’s disappointing, given how well we played – the level of composure and quality, I was very proud of the team. We caused them lots of problems.

“Individually, they are world class. You get punished at this level, but overall we looked like a proper team and developing at that level. So, many positives from the game.”

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers was deflated by the error by Dedryck Boyata for Bayern’s opener

Celtic equalised in the second half when James Forrest dinked the ball through to Callum McGregor, who steered a shot under goalkeeper Sven Ulreich.

The sides were only level for four minutes though, Javi Martinez rising above Nir Bitton to head home the winning goal.

“I thought, as a team, we showed a high level of tactical idea and technique to play,” Rodgers said.

“The goal was a wonderful demonstration of two Scottish players showing a great bit of skill.

“How James lifted that over – if that was them, everybody would be raving about it – and Callum does what he does, he breaks into the box and scores.”

Rodgers also praised the contributions of two more Scotland players – Kieran Tierney and Scott Brown – in a team performance of discipline and authority that has the former Liverpool manager full of belief that his side can prosper in the Europa League in 2018.

“Kieran Tierney up against Arjen Robben, outstanding again, and Scott Brown in midfield, controlling,” said Rodgers.

“Across the team, I was really pleased with the co-ordination and how they worked the ball.

“It’s another step for us being a competitive side and playing proper football at this level.

“It’s a huge step for the confidence and, apart from the two goals we conceded, defensively we were very good, we played our shape very well and pressed at the right moments.

“When we had the ball, we found the gaps. But what we’ve got to do now is finish off over the next two games.

“We want to achieve what we set out to achieve – European football after Christmas.”

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