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Brendan Rodgers so proud of his classy Celtic after Man City heroics

Champions League

By Graham Luney

Brendan Rodgers hailed his Celtic heroes after they ended Pep Guardiola's perfect record in charge of Manchester City in a Parkhead thriller last night.

Celtic claimed their first Champions League Group C point after the 3-3 draw and Ulsterman Rodgers saluted a "top class" performance from his side.

"Collectively, we were outstanding," said the Hoops boss. "Tonight, how they played and performed was top class. That will give them confidence going forward."

The hosts led twice in the first half, Moussa Dembele diverting in Erik Sviatchenko's header and Kieran Tierney forcing an own goal by Raheem Sterling. Fernandinho's strike brought City level and Sterling netted the visitors' second. Nolito equalised for the Etihad giants again after Dembele had netted on the turn.

Rodgers added: "Hopefully it's a really good marker on how much the players have improved in a short space of time but I know there is a long way to go in terms of where we want to be. That was a big, big performance from us and we could have won but we're happy with a point."

Rodgers said that the extraordinary atmosphere had delivered noise the kind of which he had not experienced in his football career.

“It’s a noise I’ve never heard before,” he said.

“When you come here you realise how many players around the world talk about the atmosphere here.

“They really helped us to produce the performance we did.”

But it was the strategic capacity of his side to press City — in the process bringing to an end their run of 10 consecutive wins under Guardiola — which he said had been the key.

“For us it was about tactically setting up and pressing,” Rodgers said. “It has to be an educated pressure because if not they will run through you.

“One of our goals is to go over the top of the press. There were many examples of counter pressing. That’s an example of working collectively hard together.

“Tactically if you are not organised against this team, like we’ve seen in the Premier League, they can really hurt you but that was a big, big game from us. We’re happy with a point. It’s a big step forward for us.”

Rodgers said of Dembele: “We’re very lucky to have him. He was coveted by a lot of teams but his agent is a clever guy.

“Does he go to a so-called better league as such and maybe not play as much? Or does he come here and develop for two or three years? He really bullied their back four but more than that (showed) a wonderful touch, power, pace agility.

“We put down a marker. Manchester City have travelled round the Premier League and absolutely destroyed teams, and that’s why this was going to be a very difficult game for us but tonight showed this is a huge club.

“It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. It just doesn’t have the platform of the Premier League. To come and virtually out-press Manchester City, (the players) deserve respect for that.”

Guardiola, whose side had won every match this season under his guidance until last night, has warned that a 3-3 draw against Celtic must teach his players that Champions League opponents can “punish” them like “a machine”, as he predicted that the group stage may go to the last game.

“Maybe it is a good lesson for the future (about) how important it is to start well,” Guardiola said. “In Europe you can’t concede because they are a machine; they are there to punish you.”

The dropped points leave City two adrift of Barcelona, who came from behind to win at Borussia Monchengladbach.

Belfast Telegraph


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