Celtic: Brendan Rodgers urges ‘patience’ after scraping by Astana in Champions League
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has urged supporters to be patient after they needed a stoppage time penalty to edge past FC Astana in their Champions League third round qualifier.
Celtic earned a 2-1 win thanks to a penalty from Moussa Dembele with the game on the verge of extra time after Leigh Griffiths’ first-half stoppage time penalty had been cancelled out by a second half strike from Agim Ibraimi.
The result sealed a 3-2 aggregate win over the Kazakhstan side, who finished with just nine men on the pitch after Igor Shitov was sent-off for his costly foul on Dembele and Dmitri Shomko saw red for his protest at the awarding of the penalty.
Former Liverpool manager Rodgers praised the Celtic support from their backing during the game but also asked them to trust in his game plan after claiming the players felt the tension coming from the stands as the team probed for a second half winner.
“The supporters were unbelievable for us tonight but the only thing I would say to them is I think they need to show a little bit of patience as well,” Rodgers, who joined the Glasgow giants in May, said.
“I’m a Celtic supporter. I know what they want and how desperately they want it but they put the players on edge at times tonight.
“In modern football teams are organised so if you can’t play forward and you can’t play sideways then you’ve got to come back. But when you come back we shouldn’t be on edge because we’re coming back. We have to circulate the ball to get out the other side and try and provoke them to become disorganised and then hopefully score a goal.
“Hopefully going forward instead of having that edginess the supporters will trust the players and trust our game model and how we work and like we seen tonight we can eventually get there.
“But apart from that it was a wonderful atmosphere from a brilliant support that again pushed us over the line.”
The Scottish champions could now face Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb, Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria, Danish champs FC Copenhagen, Hapoel Be’er Sheva of Israel or surprise qualifiers Dundalk from the Republic of Ireland when the draw for the play-off round is made on Friday.
And Rodgers said he had no preference about who he faces as he looks to guide to the lucrative group stages of the Champions League for the first time in two years.
“It is the final step. There was always going to be three tough rounds,” Rodgers said.
“The guys who’ve had experience of it here tell me that sometimes the first two rounds are the most difficult.
“That was a difficult test for us. I think when the tie was made everyone felt that we’d do well to come through this.
“But I thought over the two games we showed different elements of our game and we deserved to go through.
“Now we have one final step to go and we’ll see what Friday brings us but certainly it gives the players great belief and hopefully gives the supporters great belief.”
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Published: August 4, 2016 04:00 AM