BRENDAN RODGERS has re-emphasised his faith in Joe Hart despite his keeper taking flak for the opening goal in Rotterdam that opened the way for Feyenoord’s 2-0 win.
The Dutch netted from a long-range direct free-kick in the second minute of first-half stoppage time as the ball curled and whipped past the diving Celtic netminder.
Calvin Stengs’ drive eluded Kyogo Furuhashi on the end of the Hoops wall which begged the question why a small forward should be placed in such a strategic position in the defensive construction.
ONE…Calvin Stengs strikes his left-footed free-kick at the Celtic goal.
TWO…the Dutchman’s effort clears Kyogo Furuhashi in the Celtic wall.
THREE…disaster strikes as the ball kicks up in front of the diving Joe Hart to flash into the net for No.1.
Hart left a large chunk on his net of his left exposed and the opponent gratefully accepted the opportunity to swirl in a deadball kick that skidded off the wet surface away from Hart’s lunging attempt to save.
Rodgers, though, refused to point the finger of blame at the 36-year-old 75 times-capped England international who will be back between the stick against Livingston in West Lothian tomorrow.
The Hoops gaffer admitted: “Joe’s a very experienced goalkeeper and we know we shouldn’t concede at that moment.
“But I have no doubts about him. He’s a really honest guy and a really honest man. We were all disappointed, having worked so hard against a team of that level.
“Part of the game plan was to ensure that, in the first 20 minutes, we matched the intensity and matched their level. And we did that. From there you can grow into the game, especially away at a tough venue.
NOT THIS TIME…Joe Hart dives to his left to save Igor Paixao’s penalty-kick.
“We did that up until that point when they took the free-kick. If Joe makes the save or they miss it then for sure the whistle blows and you’re going in in a really good place at a really difficult venue.
“So, that moment and then the next 15 minutes, when we lost a man, changed the course of the game. But Joe is a big honest guy and he’ll know as well as anyone so we put it to the side and move on.”
On Kyogo’s positioning in the wall, Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I like players to make decisions during the game.
“Sometimes, as a player, there’s a feeling you get if something happens in a game that’s maybe not been planned for and you have to deal with it differently.
“You just have to make sure, if you do adjust the wall, you don’t put the smallest guy in it!”