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Celtic fans will make crucial Europa League tie special at Parkhead, says Rodgers

 

Crunch time: Brendan Rodgers knows he’s close to knockouts
Crunch time: Brendan Rodgers knows he’s close to knockouts

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers expects a big European night at Parkhead is on the horizon after the 1-0 win over Rosenborg set up a last-day Europa League showdown with Salzburg.

A Scott Sinclair header from a James Forrest cross just before the break at the Lerkendal Stadium gave the Parkhead club their first away victory in the group stages.

Celtic moved on to nine points and in their final Group B fixture they face Salzburg, who qualified with a 1-0 win against RB Leipzig, at Parkhead in a fortnight.

A point would be enough for the Scottish champions to secure European football after Christmas and Rodgers believes it could potentially be a special night.

The Ulsterman said: "There's no doubt. I don't need to encourage it. It will be a fantastic demonstration of what the Celtic support is about and that synergy between them and the team. It's been a great learning campaign for us again.

"We came here knowing we had to win and to see the players playing with that pressure and that level of control was very pleasing.

"That along with the result makes it a really good night for us.

"We just wanted to have an opportunity to have it in our own hands and thankfully that's the way it's worked out.

"You can only look after your own result. The other game's result helps us. We will go into the last game going to win the game. It's very hard to go and just play for a point or a draw.

"We're playing a good side but we want to use the whole Celtic Park experience and the atmosphere to push us over the line."

Rodgers is confident that defender Mikael Lustig, who was replaced by Cristian Gamboa in the second half, will be fit for the Betfred Cup final against Aberdeen at Hampden Park on Sunday.

He said: "There are a few of the boys we just needed to protect.

"Mika got a dead leg and it was precautionary with him and James Forrest and with Odsonne Edouard, the only fit striker with Leigh Griffiths coming back, the plan was to give him 65 minutes. The injuries I think will be fine."

Interim boss Rini Coolen had no complaints about the result which left his Rosenborg side with five defeats out of five and guaranteed to be bottom of the table.

He said: "Celtic deserved the win because they were better.

"There was a difference between them and us but before the game, we knew we were going to face a good team. The goal was disappointing. The boys improved in the second half.

"I have to compliment the boys, how they tried to get the goal back. Unfortunately, it was not good enough."

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