Sunday 17 December 2017

Scott Brown: Celtic can bounce back from Milan defeat

Celtic's Georgios Samaras (C) stands with teammates Scott Brown (L) and Kris Commons
Celtic's Georgios Samaras (C) stands with teammates Scott Brown (L) and Kris Commons

Celtic skipper Scott Brown insists the Scottish Champions can bounce back from their opening Champions League fixture to challenge for a place in the last 16.

Neil Lennon's men stunned Europe last year by escaping the group stages and making it into the knock- out stages.

But they opened this year's campaign with a 2-0 defeat after AC Milan scored twice late on to secure victory at the San Siro.

Celtic - who have never won on Italian soil - where undone by Cristian Zapata's deflected strike before ex-Portsmouth midfielder Sulley Muntari tapped home a second after former Manchester City maverick Mario Balotelli saw a fizzing free-kick stopped by goalkeeper Fraser Foster.

Yet the Parkhead side were able to match their hosts in the possession stakes and could have taken the lead when Anthony Strokes smashed a free-kick against the bar.

Asked the display gave him confidence for the rest of the group fixtures, Brown told Sky Sports: "We had a lot of chances and played well as a team but sometimes playing well doesn't get you anywhere. But then again, there is always the rematch.

"We knew it was going to be a tough group but they have got to come to Celtic Park and it is going to be a hard one [for the other teams]."

Stokes' free-kick came just two minutes before Zapata's strike flew in past Emilio Izaguirre.

But Brown felt his side were more than a match for their illustrious opponents.

"We played really well and created a lot of chances," he said. "Overall I felt we were probably the better team.

"They got the lucky break and we were always going to try and push forward [and that allowed them to get the second].

"Was I surprised by how much possession we had? Not in the slightest. We knew we were going to get possession. We know we are a good team. We gave just as good as we got."

Barcelona are next up for Lennon's men in Glasgow but after beating the Catalan giants last term, Brown insists there is no reason why lightning cannot strike twice.

He said: "[We have beaten Barcelona before] and that will give us belief. We know how Barcelona play.

"They are a world-class team and it will be a hard game for them. But we will set ourselves up well and see where it takes us."

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