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Seizing an advantage was most important prize: Brown

 

By Graham Luney

Celtic skipper Scott Brown was all smiles, as he left Windsor Park last night confident of finishing off Linfield at Parkhead on Wednesday. First-half goals from Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic burst Linfield's bubble in this Champions League qualifier, the first meeting between the two clubs, but the Hoops would have ran out more comfortable winners if keeper Roy Carroll hadn't been at his inspirational best.

Celtic dominated possession but an immense rearguard action from the hosts ensured the Blues restricted the damage.

It was a first competitive outing for Brendan Rodgers' side this season but, as expected, they had too much class for the Danske Bank Premiership champions.

"We didn't play too badly, the important thing was we got the two goals," said Brown. "They defended very deep and tried to make it hard for us but we got the two early goals.

"It's pre-season for us and that was our first real game but at least we got the win.

"It was alright, not too bad, there has been a lot worse but it's good to have a 2-0 win.

"I was pleased to see our fans here, they were advised to stay away but I'm pleased they still came.

"The Celtic fans are fantastic and follow us everywhere including here, it's fantastic to see them. The Celtic Park game will be the first one of the season in front of our fans and it will be good."

Brown's team-mate Leigh Griffiths had to dodge missiles as he attempted to take a corner but the midfielder wasn't surprised by the incident.

"We don't worry about that, we just concentrate on what's happening on the park," he said.

"That's football, we have been to Tynecastle and Ibrox and things like that happen, it's part and parcel of football.

"I got a few pound coins and came away with a profit. It's difficult when bottles and coins are thrown at you but you've got to deal with it and back at Celtic Park we will have a bigger pitch with the fans behind us."

There was more bad feeling at the end of the match when Griffiths, who had been substituted, came back on to tie a Hoops scarf to a goalpost.

Rodgers was more concerned, admitting his fears for Griffiths' safety.

"Players go on to the field and it should be a safe environment for them," he said.

"Obviously it's not what you wanted to see. The game was played in good spirit, in the main. So it's not ideally what you would like to see. I thought it was strange him getting booked for it.

"But like I say, the talk is more really on the football for us. The scoreline was okay, it could have been better but it gives us the advantage for the second leg."

The Ulsterman added: "That was a bit better than the first game last year. We got the job done. It's really in pre-season so our match sharpness and clinical finishing will hopefully improve. It was a difficult occasion but the players dealt with it well and Roy Carroll was outstanding. It could have been five or six if not for his brilliant saves.

"To win 2-0 away from home is always nice, regardless of the opposition."

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