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SETBACKS FOR CELTIC’S EURO RIVALS

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BRENDAN RODGERS will take heart from the fact his Champions League Group C rivals Barcelona, Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City all lost at the weekend.
Barca crashed 4-3 at Celta Vigo and boss Luis Enrique refused to single out goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for blame despite his calamitous error which led to the decisive goal.ter-stegen-celta-1475445079908

The Catalan giants had fought back to 3-2 when the German keeper tried to play the ball out from the back, only for his clearance to strike Pablo Hernandez on the head and ricochet into the net.His wayward pass also led to Celta’s first as they raced into a 3-0 half-time lead. It was Barcelona’s second successive defeat in this fixture as they missed the chance to go top of La Liga heading into the international break.Enrique was adamant that the defeat ran far deeper than Ter Stegen’s error of judgement, and criticised his side’s first-half display.

He said: “We didn’t win a single individual contest, we didn’t attack space, we didn’t take up good positions and we didn’t play with fluidity or movement.
“We started the second-half playing with more precision and better anticipation. It’s clear that the fourth goal killed us. But it didn’t surprise me with how the game was as a whole.”iDefending what many see as Ter Stegen’s willingness to take major risks in his own box, Enrique added: “The Barcelona goalkeeper has to take risks. I’m not going to criticise individual errors. He has to play passes and when it goes wrong, we are not going to kill him.”It is easy to criticise and say that maybe he shouldn’t have taken the risk, but everything is easy in hindsight.

“The defeat is everything and I am the most responsible for it. We win together and we lose together, but I am responsible for the rotations and so I want to assume my responsibilities.

“The season has only just begun though – we must lift ourselves.”

Pione Sisto’s well-taken goal set the tone in the 22nd minute and Iago Aspas added a breakaway second nine minutes later. A third goal arrived less than two minutes after that, Jeremy Mathieu diverting Daniel Wass’ cross past Ter Stegen with Aspas lurking.

Gerard Pique’s header and Neymar’s penalty gave Barca hope before Ter Stegen’s error with 13 minutes to go effectively sealed their fate, even though Pique cut the deficit back to one again with three minutes left.

Ter Stegen admitted: “It’s clear it’s my fault and there is no point saying any more. If I hadn’t made that mistake we had a chance to win the game.”

 In the Bundesliga, Borussia Monchengladbach, who will now play back-to-back games against the Hoops, suffered a 4-0 mauling against Schalke, who were bottom of the league going into the encounter.
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Andre Schubert’s team are without an away victory in the league since May – a 2-0 success against Darmstadt 98.
Monchengladbach failed to register an away win in the Champions League group stage last season, although they did claim a vital 3-1 play-off victory in Switzerland against Young Boys Berne to claim a spot in this year’s tournament.The Germans shipped four goals at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City last month in another 4-0 defeat.In the Premier League, Manachester City flopped 2-0 to Spurs at White Hart Lane and boss Pep Guardiola conceded the London outfit were the better team after they inflicted the first defeat of his tenure at The Etihad side.
The league leaders were second best for much of yesterday’s clash and succumbed to Aleksandar Kolarov’s early own goal before Dele Alli sealed the victory.
Guardiola, who saw his side draw 3-3 at Parkhead in midweek, said: “Spurs were better than us and I have to congratulate our opponents.”
Asked why his side, who had won all six of their previous Premier League games, were off the pace, the Spaniard replied: “There were many things. We couldn’t cope with their pressing. We wanted to do that and they did it better.”The first goal was quite similar to the one at Celtic and it’s always difficult to recover.”The last 20 minutes we played much better and in other parts we had problems to create our game.”

The defeat is the first blemish on Guardiola’s copybook since taking the reins at City this summer and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich gaffer insisted he will learn from the defeat.

Asked if he would need a reaction from his players, he said: “That is part of the game, it’s part of the job. We didn’t come to Spurs imagining we would lose, but we did.

“We changed many things in the beginning and that’s normal to the process. You cannot always win every game and sometimes it happens and helps us to improve.

“I’m here to do the job and to get better and better, to do that you need to analyse what you have and have not done well.

“In September, you cannot imagine that our team is already complete. I am new here, we arrived with enthusiasm because of the quality play we have done until now.

“We were in an amazing situation up until now, but we knew we would need to continue improving, even when we won four or five games in a row.

“We need more and more, we have to work more and that’s how it is in football. Whether we win or lose at the end of the season, we might still not be perfect.”

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