Celtic 0-1 Anderlecht: Brendan Rodgers says his side were beaten by better team

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers has guided his side to one Champions League group stage victory this season

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his side "just weren't very good" and deserved to lose their final Champions League group match against Anderlecht.

Jozo Simunovic's second-half own goal secured the Belgian side's 1-0 win, but Celtic still finished third and qualify for the Europa League.

Rodgers felt his team was outplayed on the night and that several players need to raise their game in Europe.

"The best team won, they were better than us," he said.

"Our aim at the beginning of this competition was to get through to the Europa League stage, so there's immense pride at doing that.

"It's hard to feel that after you've lost, but we got the job done.

"We have a lot of work to do before we can affect that level, but we're through and we can look forward to that in February."

Anderlecht's Pieter Gerkens and Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic
Pieter Gerkens had a second-half header diverted into the net by Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic

Celtic defeated Anderlecht 3-0 away earlier in Group B and that left the Belgian side needing to match that score to finish above the Scottish champions.

They drew two early saves from Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon and were the dominant in the first-half but couldn't press home their advantage after taking the lead.

"The context of the game probably affected our performance, especially in the first half," Rodgers said.

"Them having to chase the game, they played much quicker and we were poor in our ball possession. I was thankful to get in 0-0 at half time and second half we were better.

"I don't think we were spooked, we just weren't very good. They were brighter technically, their movement was sharper.

"Some of our players have a long way to go before they can call themselves players at this level. We need to be better, but we've shown that we can be."

Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham
Olivier Ntcham was a half-time substitute and Brendan Rodgers Celtic performed better after the break

Celtic will not be seeded in Monday's draw for the Europa League last 32 and Rodgers says there will be need to be improvements in the team's performance at this level when the competition restarts in February.

"We've got to have a touch of realism - there are going to be much better teams in that than ourselves," he said.

"We were the fourth seeds in this group and there won't be too many of those who have jumped up into third place and got through.

"Tonight is an example of the long, long way to go and the gap there is between the teams at the very top end of European football and even those in behind that.

"There's a lot of work for us to do, we'll analyse the performance and think about how we could be better - then we will be better in the Europa League in February."


Former Celtic striker Scott McDonald on BBC Radio Scotland

They'll be no one more disappointed than Brendan Rodgers, he'll be kicking himself. He'll be hugely disappointed about the performance.

Tonight was a night to really put a stamp on getting into the Europa League and being positive about progressing within Europe. We still have to be positive, we're there, and there's a lot of football to be played between now and then.

There's a transfer window so we never know what is going to happen in that, but on tonight's performance, it's going to have to be a lot, lot better, if they want to progress in Europe.

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