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Healy hails 'class act' Rodgers while fans fume over Celtic 'paramilitary' banner

By Steven Beacom

Brendan Rodgers walked into the away dressing room at Parkhead after last night's Champions League match to shake hands with every single Linfield player.

It was a sign of respect from the Celtic manager which was greatly appreciated by all connected with the Irish League side. Just moments before Linfield's European journey had ended with a 4-0 defeat in Glasgow and a 6-0 aggregate loss in the second round qualifier.

Scott Sinclair with two, Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong were on target for the Bhoys at a packed and atmospheric Parkhead.

There was an edge between the fans, but thankfully no trouble on the scale of the first leg.

Linfield supporters were furious, however, when Celtic fans in the standing area of Parkhead unveiled a banner of a person's head in paramilitary clothing. The Blues followers complained to the nearby police as the noise levels went through the roof all around the ground.

Whether or not Celtic will be in trouble with Uefa because of the banner remains to be seen.

Celtic were fined £8,615 during last season's Champions League after fans displayed Palestinian flags in a game against Israeli team Hapoel Beer-Shev.

The outcome of the game was never in doubt, but to Linfield's credit they refused to wilt in the face of immense pressure from a side that was unbeaten domestically last season.

Many in Glasgow feel Carnlough native Rodgers can inspire the Hoops to another Invincible campaign and another treble.

Linfield fans will be hoping David Healy can also deliver his second treble in succession for the Blues.

Off the pitch it was no surprise to see a large police presence outside the ground prior to kick-off.

It was the same inside the stadium with a heavy duty line separating the Celtic and Linfield support. Nobody wanted a repeat of what happened in last Friday's first leg in Belfast when a small number of Linfield supporters hurled bottles, coins and other objects at Celtic players.

The worst incident at Windsor Park took place in the second half when a glass bottle of Buckfast was flung in the direction of Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths as he tried to take a corner.

Linfield condemned those disgraceful scenes and on the eve of last night's match Blues boss Healy described those involved as "idiots".

When the Linfield players left their team coach to enter Parkhead ahead of the match, one Celtic fan shouted "have you any Buckie with you tonight?"

Griffiths was missing from the Celtic side due to a calf injury.

At Windsor he had tied a Celtic scarf to the Kop end goalpost sparking fury amongst Linfield supporters, one of whom breached the riot police line to race on to the pitch before being ushered away by stewards.

While Linfield were charged by UEFA with the 'throwing of objects' and a 'field invasion', Griffiths was charged with 'provoking spectators'.

European football's governing body plan to deal with the cases today.

Last night there was a crackling noise inside one of sport's most iconic arenas as the countdown to the start began.

Last Friday just 300 Celtic fans, who had bought tickets on general sale, were inside Windsor Park after the club refused to take up their allocation.

There were more Hoops supporters from Northern Ireland inside Parkhead for this encounter with around 1000 Linfield fans for company.

Belfast Telegraph

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