17 September 2023

Brendan Rodgers sees Celtic’s CL campaign as a ‘brilliant opportunity’

17 September 2023

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers claims excitement has wiped out any trepidation ahead of their Champions League opener.

The Scottish champions begin their European campaign against Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Tuesday.

Rodgers’ side warmed up with a 3-0 win over Dundee which took them two points clear at the top of the cinch Premiership on Saturday but there were further signs they are still finding their rhythm under Rodgers during a goalless first half when Joe Hart made an impressive save from Luke McCowan.

Rodgers, whose side also face Lazio and Atletico Madrid in the group stage, said: “It’s a really exciting time. I know there always can be a wee bit of trepidation going into the Champions League and the level, but for me there is nothing but excitement.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for us playing in the elite competition in European club football.

“We are going to a real historical ground. We are coming off the back of a couple of really good wins in different ways.

“We will recover well, we will get our plan right and we will put out a team to get a result.

“We are really going to enjoy the Champions League. Listen, they are the Dutch champions so they will be a very good side.”

Daizen Maeda had a goal ruled out for offside and Matt O’Riley hit the post with a deflected effort but Celtic otherwise struggled to get in behind Dundee during the first half.

The breakthrough came in the 51st minute when David Turnbull netted a penalty after getting himself in the way of Ryan Howley’s over-eager attempts to win the ball on the edge of the box.

Celtic stepped up the tempo and Kyogo Furuhashi headed home before setting up O’Riley to round off the scoring midway through the half.

Rodgers had handed Nat Phillips a debut only for the on-loan Liverpool defender to come off at half-time with an ankle injury, although he is expected to be fit for Rotterdam.

Paulo Bernardo and Luis Palma made their Celtic debuts off the bench while Reo Hatate made his comeback from a calf injury during the second half.

Dundee manager Tony Docherty was happy with how his game plan was working at half-time and he vowed they would not be derailed by the 16-minute goal flurry.

Docherty, whose side host Kilmarnock on Saturday, said: “We will not be defined by losing at Celtic Park but what we will be defined by is our reaction to it.

“A lot of positives, a lot I was pleased about. Every goal was preventable but I have got to take positives and move on to what is a massive game next week at home.”

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