By Harvey Byrne
Celtic striker Moussa Dembele has revealed that he respected manager Brendan Rodgers’ decision not to start him in the club’s 2-1 victory against Astana on Wednesday evening.
The former Fulham starlet came off of the bench at the 75th minute mark and had a huge impact on the final result, as he scored a last minute penalty to send Celtic through to the next round.
Despite the former Liverpool manager’s decision, Dembele doesn’t appear to be aggrieved and has said that he was 100% behind the team.
“The manager made the choice not to start me and I respect that. I was 100% behind the team. To go through now is massive for us,” said Dembele, quoted by the club’s Twitter page.
The bright prospect was hauled down in stoppage time by an Astana player, which resulted in a red card for the defender and brought the side from Kazakhstan down to nine-men.
Dembele coolly stepped up in front of the Celtic Park crowd and put the Hoops through to the next round, avoiding extra-time and penalties after they drew the first-leg tie 1-1.
The French striker revealed that he knew that he was going to score after stating that he practices penalties in training.
“I practice penalties at training so I knew that I was going to score,” said the Frenchman, quoted by the club’s Twitter page.
The young striker scored 19 goals in 64 appearances during his time at Fulham and Rodgers will be hoping that Wednesday night’s goal is the first of many as he aims to win next season’s Scottish Premiership ahead of city-rivals Rangers next season.
The Hoops will now go into Friday’s play-off draw and the Scottish giants will be keen to go one step further than their performance in the competition last year, which saw them lose 4-3 on aggregate to Swedish side Malmo at the same stage.