Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

'Excellent' - Brendan Rodgers raves about senior Celtic trio after loss v Zenit

Celtic's Callum Mc Gregor celebrates after he makes it 1-0 in the first leg Celtic's Callum Mc Gregor celebrates after he makes it 1-0 in the first leg
Frederick Owens | 24 February, 2018, 07:11

The Hoops' deserved 1-0 lead from the first leg of the last-32 clash at Parkhead last week was wiped out before half an hour had been played with Brendan Rodgers' side culpable.

A goal was still all Celtic needed to go through but in the 61st minute striker Aleksandr Kokorin made it 3-0 on the night to end the Scottish champions' hopes of reaching the last 16.

Roberto Mancini's Zenit secured their place in Friday's last-16 draw in the 61st minute with Serbian worldwide Ivanović again playing a key role as his low cross was bundled in by Aleksandr Kokorin at the back post.

Manager Rodgers said: "Defensively we lacked aggression, particularly in the first half". We are taking steps forward with a lot of young players.

"For the second goal, we didn't engage quickly enough from the throw-in, we were too deep and had to press the guy shooting".

It was then advantage Zenit 20 minutes later when a curling shot by Kuzyayev found its way past Celtic goalkeeper Dorus de Vries putting them 2-0 up on the night.

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"We said at half-time everything was too sideways and backwards and that's about bravery and courage to play". Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are. After we scored the first, we sat back to let them attack us so that we could start counter-attacks. Across two games, we were much better than them in the first game.

"In this one, if we had played with a bit more courage and belief, we maybe could have got a result".

"I think there's still an very bad lot of work for us to do, but there have been a lot of positives for us in both competitions. Apparently the magic of Celtic Park really exists - the team won in Glasgow due to the white-hot atmosphere".

Yesterday's defeat will come as a blow to Rodgers, after he rested seven players last weekend in preparation for the game in Russian Federation.

Celtic will now turn their attention to the pursuit of another domestic treble, resuming their Scottish Premiership campaign against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday, with a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Greenock Morton on 3 March, having already retained the Scottish League Cup.

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