Champions League: Celtic's Brendan Rodgers hails draw in Astana

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Rodgers thrilled with O'Connell display

Boss Brendan Rodgers praised Celtic's resilience after they came back to draw 1-1 in the away leg of their Champions League qualifier against Astana.

Leigh Griffiths scored late on for the Scottish champions, who host their Kazakh counterparts next Wednesday.

"It was an outstanding result," said former Liverpool manager Rodgers.

"We're disappointed with the goal but I think after that we showed wonderful mentality to keep fighting. It's a very important result for us."

With several central defenders missing, the visitors played with a back three, with 20-year-old Eoghan O'Connell making his European debut.

Yuri Logvinenko headed Astana in front and Craig Gordon made several good saves before Griffiths made Celtic's only shot on target count.

"I think we were all written off before the game," added Rodgers.

"Everyone was pretty clear in their opinion of the game, that we would do well to come back with anything other than a loss, but the players deserve an immense amount of credit, to fight and show spirit and passion in the game.

"The resilience and strength that we have built up over the course of the pre-season came into effect."

'Wonderful goal'

Celtic's goal came 12 minutes from time and followed good work from Patrick Roberts.

Griffiths had been starved of service for most of the match but needed just one touch before smashing home a powerful shot.

Leigh Griffiths and his team-mates acknowledge the travelling fans in Astana
Griffiths scored what could be a vital away goal for Celtic

"It's a wonderful goal from Leigh and we know the significance of the goal," said Rodgers.

"We're not getting too carried away; we've got another game against a very good side."

O'Connell lost Logvinenko from a corner for the hosts' opener on 19 minutes, but Rodgers praised the young defender.

"I thought he was outstanding," he said. "For a young player, he has been on the fringes for a few years, coming into that environment, under pressure, he had very few mistakes in the game.

"You would expect him to make some as a young player but he coped in a very difficult situation."

On the poor marking for the Astana goal, Rodgers added: "I think there has been an issue there with set-pieces, long before I came in.

"Over the course of the pre-season, we defended them well in the main but it is an element that we have to be better at and it is something we will reiterate to the players.

"They had to cope with a long ball, they were quite direct at times and a high percentage of times we dealt quite well with it but we need to ensure that our concentration is 100%."

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