By Coral Barry
Brendan Rodgers has praised his side’s mental strength and resilience after Celtic rescued a 1-1 draw against Astana in their Champions League qualifier.
Leigh Griffiths’ late strike ensured Celtic return home with an away goal and an advantage from Kazakhstan and Rodgers was delighted to see his side respond to giving away an early goal.
Celtic spent a majority of the first half on the back foot with Astana having several chances to extend their lead, but the Hoops boss praised his side after the game for claiming a fantastic draw.
“It was an outstanding result for us,” said Rodgers as quoted by the club’s Twitter page.
“The resilience and strength mentally we’ve built up came into effect.
“We were disappointed with the goal but showed wonderful mentality to keep fighting.
He added: “Huge amount of credit to the players. Opinion was we’d do well to come back with anything other than a loss.
“Got more control of the game and a wonderful goal. We know the significance of that.
” The goal now is to not getting too carried away and we have another game against a good side.”
Celtic now head to Dublin to face Barcelona in the International Champions Cup before the second leg against Astana next week.
The Hoops will be hopeful they will have new recruit Kolo Toure in the squad after Rodgers revealed when he expects the centre-back to make his debut.
Celtic were without four senior defenders for the Astana clash with Rodgers opting to give Eoghan O’Connell the chance to shine in the middle of the defence.
The 20-year-old put in a solid display if somewhat nervy at times, but Celtic will be confident ahead of the second leg.