STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

Postecoglou praises Celtic players for perseverance after win

The Celtic manager said his side's confidence is growing with each game.

Postecoglou praises Celtic players for perseverance after win SNS Group

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou said his side had stuck to their attacking principles against AZ Alkmaar and had been rewarded with a two-goal lead to take into the second leg of their Europa League play-off.

Goals from Kyogo Furahashi and James Forrest gave Celtic a 2-0 win at Parkhead and put the side in the driving seat in the contest to reach the group stage.

Postecoglou saw his side face a step up in quality after defeating Jablonec in the last round and felt they had persevered to get their chances against a good team.

“I thought it was a cracking game of football,” he said. “They took it to us at times, we had to work hard and show resilience, but the pleasing thing for me was we didn’t yield and we didn’t change our approach.

“We were still trying to be brave and even the times it didn’t work out, we just got back on the horse and went again. Our reward for that was getting our goals.

“Now half way through the tie we’re two goals up.”

AZ pushed for goals throughout and Celtic had to call on Joe Hart to make a number of saves but the hosts denied the opposition throughout, handling spells of sustained pressure in both halfs.

“I’m not one to pop champagne corks over clean sheets, it’s more about how we defend and I thought for the most part we defended really well,” Postecoglou said. “Joe had to make some good saves at different times but for the most part we kept their threats, and they’ve got some real good threats, to a minimum.

“I thought we worked awfully hard in our pressing. For our second goal the pressing we did to win the ball back and then score that goal, shows that you know we’re developing both sides of our game.

“That’s going to be important.”

Celtic have now won five games in a row, scoring 18 times, after a rocky start and Postecoglou feels that momentum will stand his players in good stead for next week’s return leg.

He said: “I’m sure every game has given them belief and every game is giving them confidence and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have it because they’re clearing every hurdle that’s put before them.

“Everyone said we’d get challenged tonight and we did and I think what you saw was, okay, we didn’t dominate the game the way we have others but at the same time, we didn’t change our approach and I think that’s an important thing for us to overcome, in these early stages of building something.”

The Australian was reluctant to be drawn on the move to sign right-back Josip Juranovic despite a fee being agreed with Legia Warsaw but stressed that Anthony Ralston had put in another impressive performance in the position against AZ.

“We’re not bringing in people to replace people,” Postecoglou said. “We’re bringing in people to support the ones we’ve got already.

“It’s inconceivable, no matter who the player is, they’re not going to play every game.”