Alashkert 0-3 Celtic: Brendan Rodgers lauds goalscorer Callum McGregor

Callum McGregor scores for Celtic against Alashkert
Callum McGregor rasped home Celtic's third goal in a comfortable win over Armenian champions Alashkert

Manager Brendan Rodgers praised Callum McGregor as the midfielder scored in Celtic's Champions League first qualifying round win over Alashkert.

Celtic overcame testing conditions to claim a 3-0 victory and a commanding aggregate lead ahead of the second leg.

McGregor fired home the third goal in the final minute of normal time, after Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest had netted for the visitors.

"He plays with a lot of authority and personality," Rodgers said.

"He's a real attacking midfield player. We've got different types - Scott Brown's a defensive one, Olivier Ntcham's a passing midfield player, and Callum, who is an attacking player.

"He can go forward, break lines and score goals. He does it very regularly now and in big games. He's a very valuable player to our squad."

With the temperature in Yerevan around 30C, two water breaks were required after 30 and 60 minutes respectively.

James Forrest scores for Celtic against Alashkert
James Forrest scored Celtic's second from inside the Alashkert penalty box

Rodgers was delighted by how well Celtic's players coped with the heat, and while Alashkert threatened on the counterattack, it was the Scottish champions who controlled proceedings.

Edouard reacted sharply to divert Forrest's miscued volley home on the stroke of half-time.

The winger doubled Celtic's lead soon after the interval with a close-range finish, and McGregor's precise, low effort completed the victory.

"It was very, very pleasing because of the three first-round ties we've played, that was the most difficult," Rodgers said, referring to qualifiers against Gibraltar's Lincoln Red Imps in 2016 and Linfield of Northern Ireland a year ago.

Chris Davies, Brendan Rodgers and John Kennedy watch Celtic in action against Alashkert
Brendan Rodgers, centre, watched his team establish a formidable lead for the second leg at Celtic Park

"They had good pace in the team and are technically good. I'm really proud of the players to play in that heat and take control of the game. It's important to keep a clean sheet, we concentrated well and scored three very good goals.

"It's a huge credit to the players, the medical staff, we know we've a long way to go to get to full capacity, but to show that hunger and desire to work right to the end, they kept pushing and got their rewards. It was a great credit to how they worked fitness-wise.

"It's breathless really, it's very tight air, but I thought they coped with it very well. They'll really benefit from that game fitness-wise and it sets us up well for the next leg."

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