Brendan Rodgers believes his Celtic side’s performance against Atletico Madrid shows they can match a top-level side.
Celtic were ahead twice against the powerful Spanish side, with Kyogo Furuhashi and Luis Palma finding the net for the hosts. Atletico drew level through goals from Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata in a thrilling match that saw the Scottish champions earn their first point of the group stage.
Rodgers was thrilled by how his side took the game to their opponents, with the team showing attacking verve and energy in the first half in particular.
“I thought it was a terrific performance,” the Celtic boss said.
“Especially in the first 45 minutes, the quality of our football, the speed in our press and the speed in our game, was everything that we would want.
“Our reaction in the game was superb and everything that I’d want in terms of playing together, pressing but the intensity and a really aggressive mentality and having the courage and bravery to play. So it was very, very good.
“We expected in the second half for them to have a spell in the game but they didn’t create so much. Their equalising goal was fantastic. You know, it’s quality at this level, the early cross and the header and it’s a great finish. But we kept fighting and we showed that we could really compete with a top level team.”
Atletico were reduced to ten men late in the second half but Celtic were already showing signs of tiredness and couldn’t capitalise on their advantage. Rodgers admitted he had hoped for more than just a solitary point, with the team bottom of the group at the halfway stage, but was happy to take all the positives he could from the performance.
“There’s a wee bit of tiredness that comes in the last 20 minutes because we are not used to playing at that tempo and against that level of opponent, so naturally a wee bit of fatigue kicks in,” he said. “We also had to make an early sub with Reo’s injury.
“It was a really big performance but we couldn’t quite get the result we were looking for.
We wanted to get three points but if you can’t get the win then don’t lose it, and I don’t think we looked like losing. I can see development for sure.
“We have shown we can perform and we go into the other three trying to get as many points as we can and see where it takes us.”
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone said: “As expected, they started really well, as they did in their first two games.
“We really struggled to contain them early on and they scored with their first attack. We managed to respond but they quickly scored a fantastic goal.
“The first half didn’t go as we would have liked but I was really pleased with the second half, it was a real Champions League performance. We showed a lot of personality and responsibility.”
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