Sunday 17 November 2019

'I didn't see it' - Brendan Rodgers brushes off question about paramilitary banner in Celtic crowd

Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers believes Celtic will again have to take the initiative when Rosenborg travel to Parkhead next week for the first leg of their Champions League third qualifier.

The Hoops ensured their meeting with the Norwegian outfit with a 4-0 trouncing of Linfield at Celtic Park to go through 6-0 on aggregate.

Rodgers' side led 2-0 from the first leg against the Northern Irish part-timers at Windsor Park on Friday night and the return encounter was even more one-sided with Scott Sinclair's fourth-minute goal no reflection on the first 45 minutes.

Midfielder Tom Rogic, who like Sinclair had scored in Belfast, added a second two minutes after the restart before Sinclair grabbed his second with another strike.

Substitute Stuart Armstrong added a fourth in added time to book the Scottish champions' place against Eliteserien league leaders, who overcame Dundalk but only after extra-time.

Asked if Rosenborg would be a step up in quality, Rodgers, who was pleased with "some of the football at this stage of the season, it was very good" said: "It is never easy.

"Lots of teams will come here and sit behind the ball, and 95 per cent of the two games were played in the final third.

"Rosenborg will not want to concede so many. They will want to take the game back to the second leg and ensure they have a chance.

"For us we play how we play, we go and attack the game and see if we can build a lead for the second leg

"We have watched some of their games already. They are pretty stable, they play 4-3-3, they are midway through their season so they are going to be at a good level of fitness.

"The structure is pretty much set in how they play, Norwegian teams are very disciplined and organised but we look forward to it.

"We know whoever we get in the qualification campaign it is never going to be easy.

"But if we want to get to where we want to get to we have to go into these games and work well."

Asked about a paramilitary image displayed on a banner held up in the section of the stadium which normally houses the Green Brigade, the Ultras-style element of the Hoops support, the Northern Irish boss said: "I didn't (see it). Fortunately I am one of these guys who just concentrate on the game."

Celtic Fans inside Parkhead during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Second Round,Second Leg match between Celtic and Linfield at Celtic Park Stadium on July 19, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Linfield boss David Healy, a former Rangers striker, praised Rodgers and was impressed by his side.

He said: "Brendan was a class act as he always is off the pitch. He came into the dressing room after the game and shook every person's hand. That meant a lot to the staff and players.

"Celtic are a quality side, we knew that. They had a right go (in the second half), they came out 100 miles per hour and I think 4-0 was probably fair.

"I patted the players on the back for their effort, attitude and discipline. We got done late on with fitness levels.

"The kitman has ordered chicken burgers and chips, these boys are up at seven o'clock in the morning to go to work.

"That is the level we are at. Celtic are an incredible team, especially these days.

"They have won six league titles in a row but that at the moment it is the best squad of players Celtic have seen in probably a long number of years."

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