Rodgers hails ‘brilliant performance’

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Brendan Rodgers praised midfielder Nir Bitton’s performance at centre-half in the absence of injured duo Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko

Manager Brendan Rodgers described Celtic’s 5-0 Champions League play-off win over Astana as an “outstanding team performance” but insisted there is work to be done in the second leg.

Celtic travel to Kazakhstan on Sunday ahead of Tuesday’s tie, with Rodgers adamant that he will select a team to win the match and not just see it out.

“We want to go there and win the game. We want to perform well,” he said.

“It was a brilliant performance and now we need to get the job done there.”

An own goal by Evgeni Postnikov and a Scott Sinclair strike established a 2-0 half-time lead for Celtic, and they added further goals through Sinclair again, James Forrest and an Igor Shitov own goal.

Celtic drew 1-1 away to Astana in the third qualifying round last season, before progressing by winning 2-1 at home, and the Kazakh champions have a strong home record.

Rodgers, though, was impressed with the way his players have grown and developed in European competition in the past 12 months,

“It’s a great demonstration of the work the players have made and progressed over the course of the last season,” the Celtic manager said.

“You could see the physical courage when I came, but having the ability to be composed, to have maturity, to handle the ball, and have the belief in a shape and understanding of the game, that was perfectly demonstrated tonight.

“It was an outstanding team performance, creativity, pressing, really good structure to the team. We scored five goals and missed one or two chances. To do that at this level of competition for a Scottish team, I was really proud of the team.

“We’re in a better place [than last season] but we understand we have to finish the job off.

Leigh Griffiths knocks in Celtic’s fifth goal, deflected into the net by Igor Shitov (number four)

“The players deserve a huge amount of credit, they managed the game very well. We’ve made a really good start and it’s another game when we haven’t conceded.

“We’ll pick a team to win the game [next week]. I’ve got trust in all the players, they’re very clear in how we play.”

Rodgers confirmed that midfielder Stuart Armstrong is likely to sign a contract extension “within 24 to 48 hours” and added that Tom Rogic appeared to have recovered from a second-half head knock that required him to leave the field.

“Tom is fine,” Rodgers said. “He was smiling at the end.

“Stuart, hopefully imminently, he will agree an extension to his deal. Hopefully that will be announced in the next 24, 48 hours, which will be brilliant for us.

“I have a huge admiration for him, this is the place for him to develop and he’s a vital member of our squad.”

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