Saturday 17 March 2018

'There is no embarrassment' - Brendan Rodgers urges calm after shock of Gibraltar

Rodgers insists he's not embarrassed despite opening night defeat to Lincoln Red Imps

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers reacts at the final whistle after their Champions League defeat to Lincoln Red Imps was confirmed. Photo: SNS GROUP
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers reacts at the final whistle after their Champions League defeat to Lincoln Red Imps was confirmed. Photo: SNS GROUP

Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers chose to look forward positively despite being beaten by Gibraltar part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in his first competitive game as Celtic manager last night.

The stunning defeat in the second qualifying round of the Champions League burst any bubble of positivity around the former Liverpool manager as the Bhoys lost to a goal scored by a police officer, Lee Casciaro, in the 47th minute.

Asked if there were red faces in the dressing room, the former Liverpool boss, who took over from Ronny Deila in May, said: "No. There is obvious disappointment.

"There is no embarrassment. It was a tough game in tough conditions. We didn't take our chances, they took their chance.

"We dominated and created enough chances to score. Sometimes it can happen, obviously with the pitch, an awkward bounce and all of a sudden the player is in, it's into the floor and goes in.

"It was difficult, of course. They set up 5-4-1. And it doesn't matter the team, the level. Teams have good organisation, 11 players behind the ball.

"Throw the pitch into that, it's very, very tough for the players.

"But we created enough chances, their keeper made fantastic saves. It gives us a bit of work to do in the second leg."

There were echoes of Gordon Strachan's disastrous first game in charge which ended in a 5-0 defeat to Artmedia Bratislava in 2005, which they narrowly failed to overturn in the second leg after a 4-0 victory.

"We have seen enough to see that we can get through in the second leg," added Rodgers. "Of course you are disappointed to lose."

Rodgers' message to Celtic fans, over 300 of whom were in the tiny stadium which was not full to its 2,000 capacity, was to "stay calm".

He said: "Celtic fans expect us to get through into the group stages. It was disappointing but the players gave everything they had.

"The message to them (fans) is to stay calm. This is a good group of players, they are working hard and in a week's time we will need them. I always thought this qualification phase would be based on the second leg at home, so we will need that support and hopefully get the job done next week.

"They were never in command. We were the team with dominance. What we lacked was the final touch, the final ball.

"I'm not really (shocked). I've been around the game often enough, I know these results can happen. We stay calm. We need to put in a performance next week,

"The result here complicates it a bit for us. We move on to next week."

Lincoln Red Imps captain Roy Chipolina - a customs officer - added: "It's just crazy and even when we go over for the second leg I don't think the lads will even believe that we have actually beaten Celtic.

"It is just unbelievable."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport