Brendan Rogers: "Zenit have an excellent manager and I wish them luck in the very next game"

The Celtic boss spoke to the media after the defeat to Zenit in the UEFA Europa League.
Brendan Rogers: "Zenit have an excellent manager and I wish them luck in the very next game"

It’s a very disappointing outcome for you, what were the differences between last week and tonight?

Firstly defensive we lacked aggression, especially in the first half. We didn’t close the space quick enough. We talk about defending forward and we didn’t do it and we conceded goals because of that.

Goals like the first one happen, we got blocked off at the corner and Bransilav, who’s outstanding in the air, scored the goal from the corner. Goals like the second one can happen too, but At 2-0 we had an opportunity in the game.

But everything was about sideways and backwards, with a lot of young players in the team that can happen. In the second half we started off well but conceded the ball too cheaply, then they won the ball and crossed in for the third.

Across the two games we were the better team and if today we had played with more courage and more belief then we could have got the result.

You said getting to this stage was progress, and after Anderlecht you said the players had a lot to learn to compete at this level, what needs to be done?

I think there’s work for us to do. We’ll take a step back but there have been some positives for us in Europe this year. We’ve played very well in some games. We’ve been up against the best of the best and we’re learning. But It’s about consistency. Last week was an outstanding performance to get us here and give us a chance to get through to the next round. But if you don’t start aggressively you don’t get through. Over both competitions there have been things that have pleased me with the young players especially. We’ll have to do as well as we can with our domestic campaign and try to create history. From there we hope to take a step forward in Europe like this year.

Given the amount of possession you had, more than 60%, should you have been more of a threat?

Possession is no good on its own, you have to penetrate and create chances. We had enough control and we should have played forward, when it got to 3-0 they could control the game without the ball. They sat deep and controlled the space. It’s always the case when teams are that far in front they can do that and the possession stats change and don’t tell the whole story. In the first half we were no threat at all and we didn’t get forward.

In the second half we were better but you need to defend better than that to have a chance. The third goal was very disappointing to concede.

Today you played under a closed roof, have you played under a closed roof before, was this difficult? And in the second half, Sinclair and Musonda came on as subs, they seemed to bring intensity and a treat, why didn’t they start?

The first question. The stadium is fantastic, it’s a real contrast, it’s hard to imagine its -16 outside and then it’s like a spring evening inside. A big congratulations to Zenit, there’s obviously been a lot of money spent on it. For Zenit and for the World Cup it will be a brilliant venue, so well done.

The second question. In the first game we had the possession and creativity. We wanted to have the same tonight and that didn’t work out. When we felt that we needed changes they came on and it can be easy to play when you’re 3-0 down sometimes. We didn’t play so well tonight but when both guys came on they showed their quality.

Which of the Zenit players caused most problems for Celtic?

They have quality players, Branislav’s experience was very important. He’s a real quality player with dominance, who gives the team confidence. I’ve always liked Paredes, he’s a quality player too who has real confidence in his game, he’s a talent and coming here for Roma for big money, you can see he’s a talent. Kokorin is highly thought of with great movement and with a great touch. When he’s in the box he scores and is a threat. Big players, excellent manager and I wish them luck in the very next game.