Proud Brendan Rodgers refused to look beyond a brilliant 90-minute performance from his Celtic side after sharing four goals in a thriller against Atletico Madrid at Parkhead.
The Irishman was delighted with his players as they went toe to toe with the Spanish La Liga giants but they couldn’t get that elusive first home group stage victory in the competition for a decade, as they were twice pegged back after goals from Kyogo and Luis Palma, despite Diego Simeone’s men going down to 10 men in the latter stages.
Rodgers gave his players plenty of plaudits but despite posting their first point on the board in Group G, their task of qualifying became tougher with Feyenoord beating Lazio. Celtic now have back to back away games in Madrid in Rome in their bid for qualifying for knockout European football after Christmas. But when asked about that prospect on TNT Sports, Rodgers said: “I’m not really thinking about that.
"We got a point, a very good point in the game and we’ll take that into our next game. The team and the performance is what I’m focused on and interested in. This is obviously a tough group for us but we’ve taken our first point in the group. Arguably we should have had more points but my focus is really on the performance which was outstanding.”
And when quizzed on Atletico Madrid’s quality, he said: “I’d rather talk about the quality of my team. I thought they were absolutely superb in the game. We scored two outstanding goals and for that first 45 minutes against a top team, we were great. They’ve got big quality so you always expect that but they kept fighting and working until the very end.
“But a brilliant performance and to play to that level against an outstanding side shows the growth of the team. We aim to impose our style and mentality every game and everything from the defending - we were very much together - and with the ball, the pressure, and courage to take the ball and pass it at speed and open up a very difficult to team open up. Everything you would want to see within a game, we saw.”
Rodgers made a personnel and tactical change when Nat Phillips replaced Luis Palma and he said: “I could see at that point our backline getting stretched because they move the ball from side to side really well and I just feel that maybe we were a little fatigued. Bringing him on we went 3-5-2 and the extra body up front was to give pressure and help us defend when they stretched the line.”