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Rodgers reveals two key messages he gave Celtic players, helped them beat Astana

By Alex Taylor

Brendan Rodgers has revealed the two two important messages that he told his team to help them get through their tricky Champions League tie against Astana on Wednesday night.

The Hoops ran out 2-1 winners on the night and will progress to the next phase of qualifying in Europe’s biggest club-football competition.

The former Liverpool boss had wise words for his team before the game, reminding his players to finish the game strongly and for the substitutes to make decisive contributions.

“I said to some of the guys before the game that sometimes it’s about the team that finishes the game as opposed to the one that starts it,” Rodgers told the Celtic website. “And there would have to be big contributions for players coming into the game.

“I thought Kolo Toure came in and showed his experience and was outstanding, but it’s great when you’re a goalscorer and get the goal. He’s been playing catch-up on his fitness but he’s got quality and that’s why he was coveted by so many teams.”

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The players heeded their manager’s advice as Former Fulham ace Moussa Dembele came off of the bench on the 75th minute and scored a last minute penalty to send Celtic through to the next round.

The Bhoys 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.

All eyes now will switch from European football to domestic affairs as Rodgers will be readying his side to begin their defense of the Scottish Premier League against Hearts in just three days time.

The Parkhead outfit will be battling Rangers for the top prize in Scottish football for the first time in four years.

In other Celtic team news, Scottish journalists have largely backed Celtic to win their six consecutive Scottish Premiership title despite Rangers’ recent promotion.