European ties hold ‘no fear’ for Celtic

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Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his side will face Rosenborg with “real confidence”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says his side now approach Champions League qualifying ties with “no fear”.

A 6-0 aggregate win over Linfield ensured the Scottish Premiership champions progressed to face Rosenborg in this year’s third qualifying round.

Celtic reached the group stages last season, but not without dramas against Astana and Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

“A year down the line, we go into these games with real confidence,” Rodgers told BBC Scotland.

“We expect to play well and work hard.

“There are always tense games, but we’re home first, we want to push and see if we can take a lead to Rosenborg. It will be tough.”

‘We showed some fantastic moments of football’

Celtic carried a 2-0 first-leg lead into the game against Linfield at Celtic Park, and added to their advantage after just four minutes through Scott Sinclair.

The home side dominated the game, but spurned chances and found Linfield’s ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll in good form.

Celtic’s high-tempo play was eventually rewarded, with Tom Rogic, Sinclair again, and substitute Stuart Armstrong scoring in the second half.

“We played well, our positioning in the game was much better than the first leg,” Rodgers said.

“We spoke about that building into the game, we got in between them. The counter-pressing to win the ball back was excellent.

“Across the two legs, 95% of the game was probably played in the final third. Roy Carroll has made some incredible saves, but we get four goals, upped our fitness, and showed some fantastic moments of football throughout.”

Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham was praised by Brendan Rodgers after his debut

Olivier Ntcham, Celtic’s £4.5m signing from Manchester City, made his debut and was impressive in midfield alongside captain Scott Brown.

“It’s just time [that Ntcham needs],” Rodgers said. “It’s such a long season and we don’t want to break anyone at this period.

“He’s been in for a week and a half. We’re trying to build a squad for a lot of games, and he’s top-class. He’ll get fitter as the season goes on.”

Rodgers visited the Linfield dressing room after Wednesday’s game to speak to the visiting players.

“It’s never easy coming here, we’ve seen other teams suffer,” the Celtic manager said. “I’m very much Northern Irish and I always like to see my fellow guys do well.

“They’ve fought over two legs and they’ve had an experience that will live with them for the rest of their lives.”

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