Sunday 21 October 2018

Brendan Rodgers picks out two players for praise as Celtic see off Rosenborg in Champions League

Rosenborg 0 Celtic 0 (Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate)

Celtic's manager Brendan Rodgers watches the UEFA Champions League second round, second leg qualifying football match between Rosenborg and Celtic at the Lerkendal Stadium in Trondheim, Norway, on August 1, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / Ole Martin Wold / Norway OUTOLE MARTIN WOLD/AFP/Getty Images
Celtic's manager Brendan Rodgers watches the UEFA Champions League second round, second leg qualifying football match between Rosenborg and Celtic at the Lerkendal Stadium in Trondheim, Norway, on August 1, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / NTB SCANPIX / Ole Martin Wold / Norway OUTOLE MARTIN WOLD/AFP/Getty Images

Celtic negotiated their way into the third qualifying round of the Champions League with a 3-1 aggregate victory against Rosenborg following a gritty goalless draw at the Lerkendal Stadium.

The Scottish champions took a two-goal advantage to Norway from the first leg of their second qualifying round in Glasgow but were tentative in a first half which saw an added-time save from keeper Craig Gordon prevent Marius Lundemo from opening the scoring for the home side.

Brendan Rodgers' side frustrated their hosts after the break without threatening too much themselves and the Norwegians ran out of imagination and inspiration and ultimately out of the competition.

Celtic, who have qualified for the lucrative group stages of the competition in the last two seasons under Rodgers, now take on AEK Athens in the next round with the first match at Parkhead next week and with a possible play-off to follow.

Rodgers praised young centre-backs Jack Hendry and Kristoffer Ajer after Celtic after the game, as he suggested the first target for this season had been negotiated.

"We have achieved the objective, which over the two games was to get through. It was a different type of game to last week," he said.

"Rosenborg played very well in the first half, they obviously needed to come out and take the initiative and they played well.

"We couldn't quite build the game as well as we would have liked but I was very pleased with the way we defended - that resilience and mentality.

"The second half we changed it slightly to gain more control and I thought in the first 20 minutes we were able to take the sting out of the game and play to our tempo more.

"In the last 20 minutes we had to deal with direct balls into the box and I was very pleased with the two young centre-halves, they really stood up to that.

"Jack Hendry really stood up, especially in the second half, won some great headers and was really dominant. Kris Ajer as well, both young.

"Kris will be a top-class player, he has all the attributes. At 20, he is 6ft 5ins, he can pass the ball, and on a evening like this he showed he can defend. Cristian Gamboa came in again and did very well.

"Tonight was a great demonstration that you can't always play perfect football, especially away in Europe, when you are under pressure and there are questions asked about your resilience and I thought we stood up to that very well.

"It was a clean sheet and that is always good in Europe away from home.

"We won the tie last week with a great attacking performance and defended well and tonight it was more about being solid and keeping a clean sheet."

Rodgers will now turn his attention to AEK Athens and added: "I haven't watched them yet. They will be a good side but we are a good side and we hope to show that next week."

Rodgers kept faith with the same side which started in the first leg with regular right-back Mikael Lustig on the bench after returning late from World Cup duties with Sweden.

Celtic had started the game in Glasgow unsteadily and lost an early goal to Birger Meling before rallying in style and this time there were a few first-half scares.

Only a saving tackle by Cristian Gamboa in the seventh minute, with the Hoops defence stretched, prevented Pal Andre Helland going clear in on goal against Gordon.

The Parkhead defender was less concise when his attempted headed clearance landed at the feet of Meling but his wild drive cleared the bar by yards.

In the 16th minute Gordon caused some alarm among the 200 or so travelling Celtic fans when he fumbled a whipped-in cross from Helland with stopper Jack Hendry unconvincingly completing the clearance.

The home side grew in confidence but at times their passing lacked precision, although Lundemo's close-range header from Helland's cross inside two minutes of added-time was goalbound before Gordon stretched to tip the ball over the bar.

Within a minute of the restart a powerful run from Odsonne Edouard, aided by Callum McGregor, ended with his right-footed drive from 14 yards escaping the far post.

The swift move promised a more dynamic Celtic but Rosenborg quickly responded with efforts from Meling and skipper Mike Jensen, both going wide.

In the 65th minute, after Tom Rogic replaced James Forrest, Gordon made a fine save from an angled-drive by Rosenborg substitute Jonathan Levi, on earlier for Helland.

The home side, under the tutelage of interim boss Rini Coolen, the academy director who took over from the sacked Kare Ingebrigtsen before the game at Parkhead, saw the tie slowly drift away.

Rosenborg had the ball in the net in the 87th minute but Swiss referee Sandro Scharer ruled it out for a challenge by Nicklas Bendtner on Gordon and, with that, all Norwegian hope was gone.

Press Association

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