Ange Postecoglou backs Celtic players after ‘frustrating’ Champions League qualification against Midtjylland
Angel Postecoglou’s first competitive game at the helm of Celtic ended in a “frustrating” 1-1 draw with Midtjylland but the Australia manager refused to use his players as a scapegoat.
In the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round, the Hoops got off to a good start when debutant Liel Abada opened the scoring after 39 minutes.
A promising first half for Postecoglou’s side, however, ended disappointingly when Nir Bitton was awarded a second yellow card a minute before the break.
Celtic then conceded an equalizer in the 66th minute when goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas failed to cope with an Evander free kick.
Despite a few individual failures that cost his side against Midtjylland, Postecoglou refused to blame his players as he sought to focus on the positives ahead of the second leg next week.
“It’s a frustrating result. In terms of performance, however, I am more than happy with my players,” Postecoglou told BBC Sportsound after the game.
“I thought it was a huge effort. We controlled the game well in the first half, we scored our goal and we had created a few chances before that. We limited them to next to nothing, so obviously we are. to 10 men for a significant amount of time.
“Nonetheless, I thought we handled it well, we were nice and compact and created our chances.
“The players don’t let me down. It’s disappointing for Bitton and he’s probably the most disappointed of them all because I know how much he wanted to contribute.
“What was important to me was the reaction of the players. I thought the two young center-backs Dane and Walsh, in a Champions League game, were exceptional.
“If there is one area to improve? I thought we made unnecessary mistakes. They only came into our box a few times and in that sense we did a great job defensively.”
Big Ange is playing the “I haven’t really seen it” card for Bitton’s red card and Barkas’ goal, instead wanting to highlight the positives from Murray, Welsh, Abada. It’s good management: not to slaughter your own players in public, after all that’s the job of us fans on Twitter. 😉 #CelticFC
– Dominik Diamond (@DominikDiamond) July 20, 2021
Socceroo Tom Rogic came on in the 78th minute of the clash and looked dangerous, while Australia striker Awer Mabil came on for the visitors in the 72nd minute.
Celtic will next face Premier League club West Ham in a friendly this weekend before traveling to Denmark to face Midtjylland on July 29.