BRENDAN RODGERS admitted he couldn’t fault his players in the aftermath of another sickening Champions League failure in the 2-1 loss to Lazio.
However, the Celtic boss also insisted his team have to be more “ruthless” to have any hope of success at this elite level in the European game.
Following the disappointing setback in Rotterdam where a nine-man Hoops side succumbed to Feyenoord 2-0 in the opening-day defeat, it was that awful taste of runners-up once more against the Serie A outfit in the east end of Glasgow.
On this occasion, it took a goal in the sixth minute of stoppage-time by Pedro to leave the hosts on the floor and wondering of what-might-have-been yet again.
In the 81st minute, it looked as though Luis Palma had netted what would turn out to be a memorable goal for Celtic when he skipped inside from the left to bury a right-foot drive low into the net at the keeper’s near post.
Unfortunately, VAR cameras proved the Honduran winger was an inch or so offside after the merest of touches from Daizen Maeda before Alistair Johnston’s ball from the right dropped at his feet.
The no-goal decision emphasised yet again the thin line between success and failure in the cut-throat competition and Rodgers said: “I am very disappointed for everyone – the players and the supporters.
“We gave so much to the game and got a great start with the fantastic goal that we scored through Kyogo, although we’re disappointed with the two goals we conceded.
“But I thought in the second-half that we were the team in the ascendancy. They maybe had one opportunity that they created, but apart from that we looked like the team that was going to score.”
Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “The winning goal is bitterly disappointing. You’ve just got to manage the game at that stage.
“It’s a long ball and you just have to deal with it and make sure that you’re secure behind the ball because when we lose it, they break away and they score into an area where we’re light on bodies – and that’s just having that ruthless streak to get something from the game.
“The supporters were brilliant for us, they drove the team on and I’m just disappointed we couldn’t pick up something from the game.”
The Irishman, who now has to pick up his troops for the Premiership visit of Kilmarnock on Saturday, added: “The players gave everything to the game and I couldn’t fault them for that – the mentality, and we’ll go away and analyse where we can be better in our next Champions League game here against Atletico Madrid.
“We’ll fight and we’ll show our spirit and, hopefully, show our quality that can get us a result.”