CALLUM McGREGOR insists Celtic can overcome their false start in the Champions League after last night’s 2-0 setback against Feyenoord in Rotterdam.
The Hoops more than held their own for the first 45 minutes, but were undone when Calvin Steng’s curling free-kick foxed Joe Hart low down at his left-hand post in stoppage-time.
The roof fell in after the interval when Gustaf Lagerbiekle and Odin Hom were red-carded within six minutes of each other before the Dutch claimed a second goal in the 76th minute.
SEEING RED…Callum McGregor looks on as team-mate Gustaf Lagerbiekle is ordered off in Rotterdam.
Hart helped keep the score down with a fine diving save to his right to deny Igor Paixao from the penalty spot in the incident that saw the Swedish defender pick up a second yellow card leading to his dismissal.
Captain McGregor, though, was far from despondent after the loss in the De Kuip stadium and said: “It was a difficult game. I thought we started really well then, of course, they got the goal before half-time which undoes a lot of the good work.
“Then we had two men sent off in quick succession which takes the game away from you.
“The boys hung in there well, which is testament to the group, because it could have been easy to lose four or five.
“We’ve got five games to go and, hopefully, our players walked off that pitch knowing we didn’t quit or give up and there’s a game at Celtic Park to come.”
McGregor, speaking to the Scottish Sun, added: “We have to take a lesson that you need to play with 11 players at this level. It’s hard enough then never mind having nine.
OH, SO CLOSE…Daizen Maeda is thwarted by Feyenoord keeper Timon Wellenreuther.
“So, there’s a learning in that, but we have five games to get out of the group.
“The positive is how we started then and we didn’t give up. There were some good sequences of passes and one or two half-chances.
“The sendings-off were maybe slightly harsh, but in UEFA competitions the leniency isn’t very high.”
Brendan Rodgers will have major selection headaches before the next game against Lazio at Parkhead a fortnight today.
Lagerbiekle is now automatically banned for the visit of the Italian side who drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in Rome in their opening match.
Cameron Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh are both injured while Maik Nawrocki didn’t make the Euro squad because of a muscular problem while Japanese centre-back Yuki Kobayashi wasn’t considered because of UEFA squad restrictions.
Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips, who was replaced at the interval during his debut in the 3-0 win over Dundee at the weekend, failed to respond to injury and failed to make the stripped pool of players for Rotterdam.
On top of that, there will be no sign of Israeli international winger Liel Abada who will be sidelined for the remainder of the year and the start of 2024.