BRENDAN RODGERS was delighted with an “outstanding result” after Celtic’s 1-1 Champions League first leg qualifying draw against Astana in Kazakhstan this afternoon.
Yuri Logvinenko headed in the opener in the 19th minute, but Leigh Griffiths, in front of a partisan 25,000 crowd, thumped in the leveller late in the game to claim a crucial draw before Wednesday’s second leg in Glasgow.
Rodgers said: “It was an outstanding result for us. Collectively, the mentality was the most pleasing thing.
“I think we were all written off before the game, everyone pretty clear in their opinion of the game, that we would do well to come back with anything other than a loss, but the players deserve an immense amount of credit to fight and show spirit and passion in the game.
“The resilience and strength that we have built up over the course of the pre-season came into effect.
“I was disappointed with the goal, it is nothing new, but we showed a wonderful mentality to keep fighting and in the second-half we restricted them to not so many clear chances and ended up scoring a fantastic goal.
“It is only half-time, but it is a very important result for us.”
Rodgers was also delighted with 20-year-old central defender Eoghan O’Connell, who was making his European debut on a “difficult, unnatural” artificial surface.
He said: “I thought he was outstanding. For a young player, he has been on the fringes for a few years, coming into that environment, under pressure, he had very few mistakes in the game.
“You would expect him to make some as a young player, but he coped in a very difficult situation.”
Rodgers also praised on-loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts. He said; “He, too, was outsanding. I thought he did extremely well throughout and can be proud of that performance. ”
However, the Hoops gaffer aims to address the defence’s inability to cope with the corrner-kick that cost the early goal.
He added: “I think there has been an issue there with set-pieces long before I came in. We have lost the man too easy, so you put yourself under pressure.
“Over the course of the pre-season, we defended them well in the main, but it is an element that we have to be better at and it is something we will reiterate to the players.
“They had to cope with a long ball, they were quite direct at times, and a high percentage of times we dealt quite well with it, but we need to ensure that our concentration is 100 per cent.”
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