Brendan Rodgers praises Green Brigade after Astana victory

Celtic defeated Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their Champions League clash. Picture: SNS
Celtic defeated Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their Champions League clash. Picture: SNS
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Brendan Rodgers has praised the Green Brigade for their backing in the 5-0 thrashing of Astana.

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The Hoops boss had told Ultras-style fans group to leave politics out of football after they were banned by the club from Parkhead for two games following the Champions League qualifying victory over Linfield.

Celtic cited “serious incidents of unsafe behaviour” while the Scottish champions were charged by UEFA on counts of an “illicit banner” and “blocked stairways”.

The Green Brigade were back inside a packed Celtic Park for the first leg of the play-off against the Kazakhstan outfit on Wednesday and roared the home side towards what is surely an unassailable advantage.

Rodgers, who is “absolutely delighted” midfielder Stuart Armstrong has signed a two-year contract that ties him to the club until summer 2019, said: “The script couldn’t have gone any better for us really in terms of how we performed.

“The one group that has been forgotten about in all this is the supporters because they were absolutely magnificent.

“I sat here four or five weeks ago talking about the Green Brigade and obviously they had been out of the stadium for a little while but they came back in and they along with the other support that was there created this unbelievable atmosphere that really helped and drove the players on.

“That good feeling spread on to the pitch and the players were absolutely outstanding.”

Rodgers was tickled by the huge banner unfurled by the Green Brigade which depicted him, skipper Scott Brown and left-back Kieran Tierney. The words “We’re not here to take part; we’re here to take over”, a phrase associated with Irish UFC champion Conor McGregor, were written across the banner.

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Ahead of the trip to Kilmarnock in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Saturday, the former Swansea and Liverpool manager said: “They are very clever these guys, so creative. But it is the time that goes into things like that.

“These guys are Celtic daft, they are Celtic mad and they show it when they have things like that in the stadium and the support that they give us is absolutely phenomenal.

“It is very much one club here and they are a huge part of that. So yes, it was good to see.”

The Northern Irishman was pleased to see Armstrong’s new deal confirmed and has no problems with it being only a one-year extension to his previous contract.

“It is what it is,” he said. “The club, player and representative have found agreement.

“For me I just wanted to ensure the player was happy and the club was happy and, if they both can find that, then I’m happy.

“He is a player I have admired a long time so to have him here for two years is great for us. It gives him a little bit of peace of mind and now he can focus on his football.

“I felt he always wanted to sign and it was a case of getting it over the line so well done to him, his agent and the club for getting it sorted.”

With one eye on the trip to Astana next week Rodgers could shuffle his squad against Killie, a side they beat 5-0 in the Betfred Cup earlier in the month.

He said: “Whoever we hand the baton over to, whether we make lots of changes or not, we will always put out a team that is very focused and to win the game.

“We made eight changes the last time we played Kilmarnock and the most important thing was we performed well and got the victory.”

Winger Jonny Hayes was ill earlier in the week and will be assessed but Tom Rogic has recovered from the head knock which forced him off against Astana.

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