The Hoops lost in play against Zenit St Petersburg with 3 goals to none following the Celts 1 goal win at the first leg. The score board didn’t run in Celts favour causing the Hoops to drop out of the UEFA Europa League at the last 32 stage. The team manager Brendan Rodgers admits the Bhoys could have performed better if they had more faith or courage against the host.
The Hoops first leg goal was cancelled when Branislav Ivanovic and Daler Kuzyaev found the back of the net for their teams giving them a 2-1 aggregate leading score board.
On resuming the second half the hoops drove to score a second goal which would read as advantage to the team but the effort was to avail when the plan went South as Aleksandr Kokorin increased Zenit goals by 1 more.
After the game, the manager said: “Defensively, we lacked aggression in particular in the first half. We didn’t close the space quickly enough. You talk about defending forward and we didn’t do that well enough, and we conceded poor goals from that.
“The corner is something that can happen. We got blocked off and they worked it well and found the space and Branislav is outstanding and really powerful in the air. For the second goal, we didn’t engage quick enough from the throw-in. We got too deep and we have to press the guy who is shooting.
“At 2-0, we still have an opportunity in the game. We said at half-time that everything was too sideways and backwards and that’s about bravery and courage to play.
“You saw the contrast from last week. In the second half we started off okay but then you concede possession too cheaply and they work ball round for a cross, and then they get the third goal. We shouldn’t be conceding that type of goal.
“Across the two games, we were much the better in the first game, but in this game, if we played with a bit more courage and belief, we could have maybe got a result.”
The Bhoys had worked their way to the UEFA Europa League knockout stage after they finished third in their UEFA Champions League group. Its was the plan of the Celts to make it to both competition which was made but the Celts boss further clarifies that the Bhoys would need improvement if to further in the European competitions.
“There’s still an awful lot of work for us to do,” he said. “If I take a step back, there has been a lot of positives for us in European football this year over both competitions.
“We have played very well in some games and showed some great qualities in some games. Of course, we are up against the best of the best, so there’s a lot of learning taking place. It’s just consistency really.
“Last week was an outstanding performance and we came into this game with a great opportunity to come through, but if you don’t start with that aggressive mentality, then it’s really difficult for you.
“Over the course of both competitions, there have been aspects which have pleased me. We are taking steps forward with a lot of young players.
“We now have to go away and finish the domestic campaign as well as we possibly can and try to create another piece of history on that front. We then need to try and and be better in Europe like we were this year and take another step forward.”