Johnston: Celtic have ‘building blocks to build on’ post-Feyenoord loss

Johnston and many of his Hoops team-mates impressed for long spells in Rotterdam.

Alistair Johnston: Celtic have ‘building blocks to build on’ post-Feyenoord loss SNS Group

Celtic right-back Alistair Johnston will take positives from his Champions League debut and believes Brendan Rodgers’ side are on the verge of clicking into gear.

Johnston and many of his Hoops team-mates impressed for long spells in Rotterdam but red cards for fellow Champions League debutants Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Thiago Holm undermined their comeback attempts in a 2-0 defeat by Feyenoord.

Celtic now face Lazio and then Atletico Madrid at home in Group E and Johnston believes the experience in the Netherlands will stand them in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.

“There were some moments in the match we are going to look back on and regret and try to learn from but it’s a difficult place to come, they are champions of Holland for a reason,” the Canada international said.

“I thought we gave them a good game until obviously it’s difficult when you go down to 10 men, and then nine men, you really shoot yourselves in the foot.

“But at the same time I was pretty proud of what we put out there and there were building blocks to build on, especially with a lot of guys who have stepped up. We have had a lot of injuries.

“A lot of guys who like me were playing their first Champions League matches really stepped up and played a big part.

“I think we gained some respect which is important. There are a lot of good things to take away, of course some decision-making and learning curves were definitely there as well for a lot of guys, myself included.

“So we will look to that and I think we will be better. We have a couple of home games coming up which are going to be crucial to trying to get out of this group.”

Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda forced saves in the first 45 minutes and Celtic had other attacking moments they could have done better with, before conceding a soft goal from a 30-yard free-kick in stoppage time.

“We have got to be a bit more ruthless,” Johnston said. “So far at start of this campaign we have struggled a bit with that.

“We haven’t really had a game where it’s all clicked and every half-chance has gone in. I mean, last weekend I hit the post twice for crying out loud.

“I feel we have had a lot of those where we just haven’t fired on all cylinders. I am looking forward to one of those matches where we break out of our shell and go, ‘OK, here we are’ and hopefully that is in the Champions League.”

Johnston, whose side face a trip to Livingston in the cinch Premiership on Saturday, added: “Every year, when I have looked back on Celtic teams, there is always a game that kicks everything off and really starts a winning streak or just gets the momentum going where everyone gets behind it.

“To be fair, we are picking up results, the win at Rangers is a massive and important one. Psychologically it was a big win, beating them there.

“But when you get one of those matches where everything clicks, it’s free-flowing, the goals are going in, it makes a big difference.

“It kind of takes the monkey off the back for a couple of guys who feel like they can play with a bit more confidence and freedom.

“I think it’s coming. Ideally it will be this weekend, but it’s not going to be an easy game either.”

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