Borussia Monchengladbach scored two second-half goals following slips by Kolo Toure but their superiority was such that they shouldn’t have needed this helping hand.
Skipper Lars Stindl and then striker Andre Hahn benefitted from errors by the former Liverpool defender, who had an excellent first-half. Celtic’s next Champions League Group C assignment is away to last night’s victors next month and they will likely need at least a draw to remain in the equation to secure European football after Christmas.
Parkhead manager Rodgers described Celtic’s situation as “difficult” following a defeat that sees them replace last night’s opponents at the bottom of the group.
“That will be tough again,” Rodgers accepted, looking ahead to the return game on 1 November. “It’s very difficult now, of course. That [the game in Germany] was earmarked as a game that would always be tough, so home games were always going to be important for us. It was not to be tonight.
“We will play the remaining games and we have the next game over there which will be tough again. We have to do the very best we possibly can.”
Rodgers backed Toure. “There will be no one more disappointed than him,” he said. The player proved this by admitting on television he was a “35-year-old defender who played like a [inexperienced] 16-year-old.”
But his manager praised the defender and challenged him to make up for the mistakes against Rangers in Sunday’s Betfred League Cup semi-final.
Rodgers added: “He is experienced enough to know he should deal with the first one.
“The second one was unfortunate. The guy has got away and finished it brilliantly with a toe-poke finish.
“Again, it is why he has been in the game for so long – because he hurts and is an honest player. Tonight will hurt Kolo, but he is also a warrior as well.
“He is a guy who is very, very mentally tough and he will recover. Tonight, he will hurt, as will the team, as will we all. But we go again tomorrow and give everything for the weekend.”
Rodgers stressed that, while the team have come a long way in a short space of time, there is still much to improve on. Borussia, who are currently ninth in the Bundesliga, showed the level to which Celtic must aspire.
“They will learn a lot,” he said. “No matter how good we might be, there are still elements we need to compete consistently at this level.
“I have said that from day one. We are in the process of building something here.
“It was brilliant to qualify but sometimes teams are better than us. Tonight that’s no disrespect to the players.
“They [Borussia] had a World Cup winner in midfield and a number of other very good players.
“Sometimes you have to put your hands up and be honest and say we lost to the better team.”