Brendan Rodgers elated after Celtic end long wait for Champions League win

By Sports Desk December 13, 2023

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted to see his players break through a Champions League barrier with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Feyenoord at Parkhead.

Substitute Gustaf Lagerbielke headed home in stoppage time to seal Celtic’s first victory in 16 Champions League group games, stretching back to Rodgers’ first spell in charge, and their first at home for a decade.

Celtic were consigned to bottom spot in Group E after matchday five but the win ensured they improved on last year’s total to finish on four points.

“It was a big moment because it’s been so long. Since I was here the first time it’s all that’s been talked about, a win in the Champions League at home. They have now cleared that barrier and we can look forward now.

“I said to the players, it wasn’t a burden they had to carry, especially a lot of the new players, but clearly the longer it goes on…

“It shows the challenge of the Champions League. But we are very determined over the course of my time here to improve on that record.

“I have been really pleased with some of the performance levels, especially at home, we have shown we can play at a high level and compete but of course you have to get results.

“To get the win draws a line under that home record and we can hopefully qualify next season and go into it fresh and the players can gain confidence knowing they can win at this level.”

Celtic had conceded in the 82nd minute and looked set for further late anguish after Luis Palma’s 33rd-minute penalty put the home side in front.

“The players showed they learned throughout the process we have been in this year because we have seen games over the years where the equaliser comes and the other team go on and get the winner,” Rodgers said.

“You have to tip your hat to the players because the mentality was very good. Some people may have thought this was a nothing game but this meant everything to us in the process we are in, to get the victory and to feel the confidence.”

Sweden defender Lagerbielke came off the bench for Stephen Welsh for his first appearance since September 30 and his first in the Champions League since being sent off in Rotterdam in the opening game.

Rodgers said: “It was a great moment for him because he hasn’t been involved in squads, other guys have been in front of him. But his attitude in training in the main has been superb and he has always been ready.

“The irony of him being sent off and then getting the goal was great, a really nice moment for him.”

Feyenoord head coach Arne Slot had claimed ahead of the game that he felt sorry for Celtic because they had – like his team – had no luck whatsoever during their Group E campaign.

After the game, Slot said: “You have to credit Celtic for the way they played in their whole Champions League, maybe apart from when they had 10 men against Atletico Madrid.

“So I think they deserved, from their point of view, a little bit of luck. They came away with one point from their previous two home games despite outplaying both opponents.

“So they deserved a little bit of luck and we are the team that gives teams a little bit of luck. You don’t have to thank me for that, but that’s what we do.”

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