“THEY were better than us.”
Those were the five words used by Brendan Rodgers to sum up a defeat in his previous Champions League group game at Parkhead almost six years ago.
The Celtic manager had just seen his team beaten 1-0 by Anderlecht in front of a stunned home crowd on December 5 2017 – and he was not looking for excuses.
GLUM…Brendan Rodgers can’t mask his disappointment at the final whistle following the 1-0 loss to Anderlecht in his previous Champions League group match at Parkhead back in December 2017. No.2 Chris Davies shares the frustration.
Jozo Simunovic’s unfortunate second-half own goal was the difference between the sides, but the Hoops still finished third in Group B to qualify for the Europa League. Rodgers’ men tied on points with the Belgians, but got through following their earlier 3-0 victory in Brussels to give them a superior head-to-head record.
The Irishman will hope he doesn’t have to repeat those words when he is giving his verdict in the aftermath of tonight’s Group E confrontation with Lazio.
Second time-around gaffer Rodgers will be out to make sure there is no action replay of the loss to Anderlecht on a disappointing evening in Glasgow when he candidly admitted: “The better team won, they were better than us.
“Our aim at the beginning of this competition was to get through to the Europa League stage, so there’s immense pride at doing that.
“It’s hard to feel that after you’ve lost, but we got the job done.
HOOPS’ OOPS…Jozo Simunovic is about to deflect in Anderlecht’s winner almost six years ago.
“The context of the game probably affected our performance, especially in the first-half.
“Them having to chase the game, they played much quicker and we were poor in our ball possession. I was thankful to get in 0-0 at half time and second-half we were better.
“I don’t think we were spooked, we just weren’t very good. They were brighter technically, their movement was sharper.
“Some of our players have a long way to go before they can call themselves players at this level. We need to be better, but we’ve shown that we can be.”
The Celtic team that night was: Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, McGregor; Forrest, Armstrong (sub: Ntcham 46), Sinclair (sub: Rogic 46); Dembele (sub: Edouard 74).
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Lazio this evening – only in your champion CQN.