Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers insists Valencia tie is not lost

Brendan Rodgers has refused to give up hope of his Celtic side reaching the last 16 of the Europa League despite admitting his players made too many mistakes as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Valencia last night.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: PA
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: PA

Goals from Denis Cheryshev and Ruben Sobrino, just before and shortly after half-time, earned Valencia the victory which leaves them in firm command of the last-32 tie ahead of next Thursday night’s return fixture at the Mestalla Stadium.

Rodgers was dismayed by his team’s lack of concentration against their La Liga opponents but believes Celtic could still turn the tie around if they can claim the first goal in the second leg.

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“It was a disappointing game to lose considering we made a good start in the first 10 to 15 minutes,” said Rodgers.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: PA

“We were bright, had a good intensity in our pressing and we circulated the ball well.

“But Valencia are a team who wait on your mistakes. At this level you have to concentrate and you can’t put pressure on ourselves. Tonight we put pressure on ourselves.

“But we made too many 
mistakes, we weren’t creating that passing and it got away from us.

“It kills your momentum and puts you on the back foot. When you present those chances to a team with that quality they can punish you.

“You can get away with it sometimes domestically, but not at this level. It’s a disappointing performance in the end.

“When you make the number of mistakes we made with simple passes you become a wee bit safe. And that was the story of our game, really.

“If you take away the mistakes which led to the goals, there weren’t a lot of chances for either side.

“It’s a big challenge for us but if we get that first goal next week it maybe gives us hope in the tie. That belief still has to be there at this level. We’ve got good players and might have one or two more back next week.”

Valencia head coach Marcelino praised his players for subduing both Celtic and their vociferous home support.

“The atmosphere here was extraordinary but we 
managed to dampen it a bit with the way we played,” said Marcelino.

“I’m very satisfied by how we handled the situation.

“We played very well, we defended really well. When we lost the ball, we won it back most of the time. All credit goes to the players for their excellent work.

“Our two strikers helped the team a lot, with their work off the ball as well as the goals they scored. This tie isn’t over yet but it would take a huge error for us now not to go through.”