BRENDAN RODGERS summed up his disappointment after the 1-1 stalemate with Aberdeen at Pittodrie in three words: “Two points dropped.”
The Celtic manager was grim-faced after watching his players struggle throughout a second-half of an encounter in which it looked as though they had complete control after dominating the opening 45 minutes.
Luis Palma had a seventh-minute goal chalked off by VAR – the correct decision on this occasion – while the Honduran winger hit the crossbar, a fate that also befell Paulo Bernardo.
LAST-MINUTE INSTRUCTIONS…Brendan Rodgers prepares Rocco Vata for his late introduction at Pittodrie.
However, the game stood on its head five minutes after the restart when the Dons broke quickly after a sloppy pass from Alexandro Bernabei to Bernardo was intercepted by Connor Barron.
The ball went to Dante Polvaro who sent a pass forward to Bojan Miovski who was faced with only one opponent, Maik Nawrocki. The North Macedonian eased away from the centre-back before curling an effort wide of the helpless Joe Hart.
New Bhoy Nicolas Kuhn, one of a triple substitution four minutes later, equalised for his first goal for the club, but the champions could not force a winner.
It was a dismal performance from the visitors after the break and Rodgers didn’t attempt to disguise his frustration.
The 51-year-old Irishman said: “Of course, you come here, you expect to win and we did okay in the first-half.
“We created opportunities, didn’t take the good chances and you could see Aberdeen probably lacking that confidence. But they got the lead that gave them that little bit of impetus.
RED ALERT…Bojan Miovski leaves Maik Nawrocki on his knees as he fires Aberdeen’s shock opener beyond the stretching Joe Hart.
“So, in the second-half I didn’t think we were aggressive enough with or without the ball.
“Aberdeen’s threat was the long ball forward so we had to deal with that, be aggressive and counter-press.
“So when you don’t, then they had a few breakaways and they get the goal. We responded well, scored a good goal. It was good for Nic to get his goal, but there’s no doubt that we expect to come here and win with Celtic and we weren’t able to do that.”
The match swung from one end to another after the interval and Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “It’s not our game to have a basketball game.
“Our game is to have far greater control of the game, more authority and obviously restrict the opposition to minimal opportunities.
“I never really felt we did that, especially in the second-half. So, that’s a disappointment.
“But, like I said, going behind, we reacted well, but we’ll have to play much better than that to get the three points.”
January recruits Kuhn and striker Adam Idah, on a loan deal from Norwich City until the end of the season, were introduced shortly after the hosts’ shock opener.
START OF SOMETHING GOOD…Nicolas Kuhn thumps in his first Celtic goal in the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie.
Rodgers added: “They will be very important. In games when you are struggling, we need players like that who can come in and make a difference.
“So, it was great for Nic to get his first goal, coming inside it takes a slight deflection, but it was on target, so that’s good for him and his confidence.
“Adam, in his time here, can demonstrate his qualities and he gives us that reference at the top end of the pitch and we then had a little bit more of a threat.
“But we just couldn’t quite make the breakthrough.”
The champions go into action again against Hibs at Easter Road on Wednesday before taking on St Mirren in Paisley in the Scottish Cup fifth round tie a week today.