Blunt Brendan Rodgers identifies Celtic's major failing in Champions League - 'the glaring thing that stands out'
The Hoops went into the make-or-break game with one point from four Group E matches but were undone with two late goals from the home side’s classy substitute Ciro Immobile. Celtic were awarded a penalty in added time for a push on substitute Oh Hyeon-gyu inside the box but it was overturned when VAR intervened and sent referee Halil Umut Meler to the pitchside monitor for another look. The Parkhead outfit, without Luis Palma, Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Liel Abada through suspension or injury, will finish bottom in their Champions League group for the second consecutive season.
Rodgers said: “It’s the overall quality. We need to have our very best players available. What makes the difference is that bit of experience and genuine quality. That’s something we can hopefully resolve over the next couple of windows. This group has gained more experience and shown they can compete in some games – but we need to add quality. That’s the glaring thing that stands out.
“Sadly for us, over the course of all the games, we’ve been hampered with our squad and availability. At this level, for us, that’s the very minimum. But I have to commend the players that have been playing. They have given everything. The game was very competitive right the way through.
“We lose two goals but the effort and commitment was there. In the last 20 minutes we looked like the team that could go on and get the result, but we gave away two poor goals. The first one, we’re in a great position up the pitch and we lose possession and never recover our shape. Then they get a bit of luck with the deflection. That was a tough one to take. For the second goal, we obviously need to be stronger and better.”
The Scottish champions finished on two points in the Champions League last season and they have their final match at home to Feyenoord next month to improve on that tally. Rodgers said: “We want to finish on a high. We want to win in front of our own supporters. Our support has been incredible, travelling all round Europe. They haven’t seen us win and we’d love to give them that victory at home and finish off with a positive result.”