Joe Hart held his hands up for the horror error that cost dearly Celtic in Leipzig. And manager Ange Postecoglou admitted after the loss there could be more devastating news with fears over a serious knee injury for skipper Callum McGregor.
Hart’s big blunder with the Champions League Group F encounter balanced at 1-1 led to the hosts regaining their lead through Portuguese striker Andre Silva and going onto a success. The 35-year-old keeper made no attempt to hide from the nightmare, but insists the risk-and-reward style brings more rewards than setbacks.
Hart said: “I am at fault for the second goal. No doubt about it. But that’s the way the manager wants us to play and that is how we play. Sometimes it is going to hurt us. But most of the time, as we showed, it works to get us through the press and get opportunities to score.
“They were pressing with three and I wasn’t sure whether to go to the centre half or Greg Taylor. I went for Greg and I missed. Those are the simple facts. But this is high-level football and something that I love playing. You make a mistake and you get punished.”
Postecoglou leapt to the defence of his keeper and insisted the mistake came about due to a building period of negativity in front of him. He said: “It’s not about the mistake. It’s about before then. We had a lot of the ball, but were just passing it back to him.
“You are doing what you think is safe, but it’s not really who we are. In the first half, we played balls that were on and sometimes we’d make a mistake and that was okay because we were trying to be positive. I just felt after we scored we almost settled for that and kept passing the ball back to him. A mistake is a mistake. It’s not about that it’s about what the lead up to that was.
“We kept giving it back to Joe for no reason. For us to get over this hump of being a good side and having results is about having a really strong belief and mentality. It’s not easy to do. I could see it coming. If it wasn’t Joe making the mistake, it would have been somebody else.
“When you get into survival mode, the best you are going to do is survive. When you come away from home in a game like this, when you’ve fought so hard to claw your way back into it, you don’t want to survive. You want to sustain a positive mindset. That’s how you affect the opposition and make them uncomfortable.
“It’s just experience. Players are people. At some point they’ll switch into some kind of safety mode. But you can’t play safe at this level. If you play for survival then that’s all you are going to get. And to survive, you aren’t really getting anywhere. It’s something we’ll learn from.”
If the result wasn’t hard enough to take, Celtic were hammered by fears over McGregor. The captain sustained a knee injury in the first period and, despite trying to play on, had to go off. Postecoglou is now anxiously waiting for an exact medical diagnosis with the scenario potentially serious.
He said: “It doesn’t look good, but we’ll wait and see what the doctor has to say. The fact he felt he had to come off suggests it’s not something small. It came from our corner and we got a bit unlucky. Callum got injured in that moment and still had the courage to run back.”
Postecoglou admits the outcome was disappointing and said: “For the most part, we matched them. We had some good opportunities in the first half, we get level. We just got a bit negative with our mindset after that. We sort of invited pressure and you can’t give away goals like that at this level. We paid the price.
“We have given them a second goal and, after that, the game gets stretched. It’s hard for us to then contain him. It’s difficult because most of our players are playing at this level for the first time. There’s nothing that can replace the understanding of being out there and knowing what you can and can’t do. We’re kind of learning as we’re going along.”