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Celtic had to defeat St Johnstone after early Champions League exit: Tom Rogic

By Ronnie Esplin

Tom Rogic admits Celtic needed to banish their Champions League blues with a win over St Johnstone on Saturday.

The Hoops crashed out of the play-offs against Malmo on Tuesday night on a 4-3 aggregate to drop into the Europa League for the second season running where they were drawn with Fenerbahce, Ajax and Molde.

Before kick-off against Saints, the Green Brigade, the ultras-style section of the Hoops support, held a two-part banner up which read 'Gutless in Malmo; Clueless in Boardroom' although there some cheers from other fans when it was lowered.

The general mood was not improved, though, when defender Dedryck Boyata scored an own goal after only 11 minutes.

However, when striker Leigh Griffiths levelled with a deflected strike seven minutes later with his eighth goal of the season, equilibrium was to an extent restored.

Rogic scored a goal out of nothing just before the break - his first at Celtic Park since signing from Central Coast Mariners in January 2013 - and a second-half header from substitute Charlie Mulgrew sealed the three points which took the champions top of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

"It was important to put that (Champions League exit) behind us and come out here and get a win and have a good performance," said the 22-year-old Australia midfielder.

"We have to move on and learn from it and get better. It is behind us now and we are just looking forward. It is a tough (Europa League) draw with good teams but we are working to improve each day to make sure we are ready for those challenges."

Saints manager Tommy Wright believes the afternoon might have been more fruitful for the his side had they been able to hold on to their lead a bit longer.

The Northern Irishman said: "We probably concede too early.

"If we hold on a bit it longer it probably gives us more of a foothold in the game. Overall, we didn't keep the ball as well as could."

Belfast Telegraph


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