Ange Postecoglou pleased to see Celtic stick to playing principles: 'the kind of team I want them to be'

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou believes his players showed themselves to be “exactly the kind of team I want them to be” despite the failure to hold on to an early two-goal lead in their 4-3 defeat away to Real Betis in the clubs’ Europa League group opener.

Celtic's Australian head coach Ange Postecoglou reacts during the UEFA Europa League football match between Real Betis and Celtic FC at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville on September 16, 2021. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)

And the Australian maintained that their willingness to stick to their attacking principles in Seville, which failed to see them through in conceding four goals inside 21 minutes of play either side of the interval, gives hope for the future despite the final outcome.

“I’m really proud of the players, I think against a quality opponents we took the game to them,” he said of a topsy turvy confrontation. In it, Celtic found themselves two-up inside 27 minutes through an Albian Ajeti striker and Josip Juranovic penalty, before a double from Junmi, and goals from Miranda and Bonja Iglesias, left them with an recoverable deficit by the 53rd minute, despite a late header from Anthony Ralston.

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“We had our moments in the game when we could have got away from them and unfortunately we didn’t do that and they have some quality upfront and they punished us. The players hung in their right to the end and it was a good game.

I couldn’t ask any more of them. The football we played was exactly the kind of team we want to be. There are still areas to improve. But when you come away from home, score three goals and create many more chances apart from that, I think moving forward there are some good signs there.

“I don’t think there was much between the teams. If people think there was a massive difference I’d hate to think I was watching a different game. There wasn’t much between the teams, we probably had an equal amount of chances, and they probably took more of theirs than we did.”

Postecoglou refused to point to selection issues as any mitigation - despite being denied his captain Callum McGregor, Kyogo Furuhashi, Greg Taylor and James Forrest through injury, and Liel Abada, for religious reasons. “We are trying to build resilience in this group, we don’t want to make excuses, we want to be a certain type of football team irrespective of the circumstances and that’s what the players showed today.”

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