BRENDAN RODGERS saluted his Celtic players after the resounding 3-0 Champions League success over Anderlecht in Brussels last night.
And then the Hoops boss promised the best has yet to come!
Leigh Griffiths, Paddy Roberts and Scotty Sinclair fired in the goals that swept aside the Belgians for the Parkhead side’s first group stage triumph on the road in five years following a 3-2 win over Spartak Moscow.
The champions took a massive step towards European participation beyond Christmas after dismantling Anderlecht and they now face an October double-header with Bayern Munich, who were thrashed 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain.
Rodgers said: “It was an outstanding performance and result. It was a real pressure game for us.
“It was a brilliant team performance. There are still areas to improve, but they were exceptional.
“The first two goals came from pressing the game and you saw the fitness of the team at the third goal when we had five players in box.
“For a Scottish team to come away, win 3-0 and keep a clean sheet at this level is obviously a big achievement.
”It shows the development of the squad in the last year or so. There is a long way to go in the group. PSG won 3-0 against Bayern, so maybe our 5-0 wasn’t so bad.
“We will reflect on the game, but I believe we can be better than we were on this occasion.
“The players deserve huge credit on the back of such a high intensity game at the weekend. They deserve all the plaudits they get.”
Before last night, the win in Moscow in 2012 was their only win in 27 attempts away from the east end of Glasgow and the Hoops had also gone 10 group stage games without victory.
Rodgers added: “Progress is what you are looking for as a coach, if you look at our last three away fixtures in this competition.
“Moenchengladbach was a great improvement, so was Manchester City and now we have this.
“It’s all about belief at this level. They are playing against top-class players and fantastic clubs. Anderlecht are Belgian champions and have a huge history.
“For our guys to show that kind of improvement is great credit to them. They will gain belief and confidence, but they also know they have to continually improve.”
How Far Can Celtic Go In The Champions League This Season?
Things could not have gone much better for Brendan Rodgers last night in Brussels. He has taken this Celtic team to the next level and now the euphoric Celtic supporters have every reason to believe their team can qualify from the Champions League group stages.
It is highly unlikely that they will win the group but they are definitely worth a punt by using free betting offers in their forthcoming double header against Bayern Munich who today sacked their manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Fourth seed Celtic are certainly capable of causing a few surprises in Group B. Last night they shocked Anderlecht beating them on their own home soil in an impressive display that saw the Hoops thrash them 0-3.
The three-nil win away from home against Anderlecht was the first time in over five years that Celtic have managed to win a Champions League match, not on home soil. It was a fantastic team performance that saw Patrick Roberts, Scott Sinclair, and Leigh Griffiths get on the score sheet in Brussels. After the match, Rodgers praised the performance of his players but insisted it was just the start and there is a lot more to come.
It was a fantastic result for Celtic and one that has put them in the running to qualify from the group. The confidence of the players if growing and if they can use this momentum they could reach the knock-out stages in this season’s Champions League. Unlike the last few years, this team seems better prepared and has enough quality in the team to cause most problems.
The most noticeable impact that Rodgers has had on the team is his player’s ability to hold onto possession. It is a tactic that the manager tried to install in all the teams he manages and is one that he has managed to get his Celtic team to do better than any other in Europe. They have the best possession statistics of any team in Europe this campaign and for this the praise has to go to Rodgers.
Celtic sides in the past have given up possession far too easily at this level and it has meant that they have had to play on the back foot. Now they control games better which has given them a better chance of dominating the play and getting a result.
Bayern Munich, who themselves lost 3-0 in Paris last night will have noted the Celtic success in Brussels. They will know that Celtic have a well-organised defense that is difficult to break down and are always a threat going forward.
Leicester City recently proved that momentum alongside confidence can achieve and this Celtic side has both.
It is unlikely that Celtic will win Group B but they have now put themselves in a position to qualify from the group stage. If they are going to do that they will need to get past Bayern Munich. It looks likely that PSG will end up topping the group after another 3-0 win over Munich.
Celtic were thrashed by the French giants in their opening match by five goals to nil and with Neymar, in their team, they look a class act.
The CQN Podcast: A Celtic State of Mind (EP14) Champions League Special
A Celtic State of Mind offers an insight into the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.
Each episode includes interviews with ‘Celtic-minded’ figures from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature or politics.
Ahead of the crucial Champions League match against Anderlecht, ‘A Celtic State of Mind’ goes behind the Champions League curtain for Celtic’s opening match against PSG.
Kevin Graham provides pre and post-match discussion with members of his CSC, as well as in-match analysis in what will be a regular Celtic State of Mind feature.