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Wednesday Round-Up: Rodgers: European Football After Christmas Is The Aim

Also confirmation that Coetzee is on his way

Celtic FC v FK Astana - UEFA Champions League Qualifying Play-Offs Round: First Leg
Brendan Rodgers - set to lead Celtic into the Champions League group stages for the second year running
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

THE BIG STORY: Following last night’s fraught qualification for the Champions League group stages - read our match report here and player ratings here - Brendan Rodgers stated that the aim of our upcoming European campaign is to try and ensure that we are still playing European football after Christmas, as it would be a ‘great step forward’ for the club and the players. Reading between the lines, that means aiming for third place in the group and a place in the Europa League.

Onto the game itself, Rodgers was left with ‘mixed emotions’ as his happiness at qualifying was tempered with how poor our defensive display was at times, particular a twenty minute spell in the second half where Astana seemed to rip us apart at will. Captain Scott Brown echoed his manager’s comments, describing himself as ‘disappointed’ in the team’s performance. I suppose it is a good thing that we have set standards so high that we are upset after a game in which we qualified for the Champions League group stages.

One aspect of the game that didn’t disappoint was the performance of Olivier Ntcham, who turned in another powerhouse display marked with the goal that all but clinched our qualification. Brendan Rodgers was hugely impressed, suggest that Ntcham can play for ‘Barcelona or Bayern Munich’ in the future.

The draw for the group stages is made tomorrow at 4:30PM, and at the moment it seems that we will be in Pot Four for the draw, although that will change if Liverpool lose tonight.

OTHER NEWS: Now comes the deluge of transfer rumours. After the game Brendan Rodgers confirmed that Rivaldo Coetzee has agreed to join Celtic, he rates him as ‘an outstanding young player’.

In ‘unsubstantiated rumour’ time, Celtic social media and message boards are aflame with rumours of Jozo Simunovic’s departure. The player didn’t feature last night due to an injury *cough*, but there is talk that the player has played his last game for Celtic, which would be a big blow. Hopefully this issue will become clear very soon.

ON THIS DAY: In 2003, Celtic defeated Partick Thistle 2-1 at Firhill, with goals from Paul Lambert and an Alan Thompson penalty