Brendan Rodgers: Celtic fans 'put players on edge' against Astana

Celtic fans
Dembele's injury-time penalty averted extra time

Manager Brendan Rodgers says the Celtic fans "put the players on edge" during the Champions League win over Astana.

Moussa Dembele's injury-time penalty sealed a 2-1 win on the night for the Scottish champions and a 3-2 aggregate victory over the Kazakh side.

That put them into Friday's play-off round draw - one tie away from the group stages - after a nervy evening.

"The fans were unbelievable for us, but I think they need to show a little bit of patience as well," Rodgers said.

"I'm a Celtic supporter. I know what they want, I know how desperate they want it. But instead of having that edginess, trust the players and how we work and eventually we can get there."

Neil Lennon, meanwhile, who experienced many tense nights in European competition as a Celtic player and manager, says it is natural that the fans were on edge.

"They're like an extra man. They raise your game to another level," said the Hibernian manager.

"Celtic's home record in Europe at home over the years has been very strong because of the backing they get.

"There are times they do get a bit anxious. It is understandable sometimes because they are very tense occasions."

Celtic will face one of Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria), Copenhagen (Denmark), Hapoel Be'er Sheva (Israel) or Dundalk (Republic of Ireland) with a place among Europe's elite at stake.

Should they lose that tie, they are guaranteed a place in the group stage of the Europa League.

Rodgers says he has no preference, but hopes to have the second leg at home again after overcoming Lincoln Red Imps and Astana after travelling for the first leg.

"That's a real benefit for us," he said. "We'll just take whoever comes in the next game.

"It's the final step [before the group stage]. There was always going to be three tough rounds."

Kolo Toure
Former Liverpool defender Kolo Toure made his Celtic debut against Astana

Dembele's goal was his first for Celtic since signing from Fulham.

It came after the 20-year-old's driving run earned a spot-kick and led to the dismissal of both Igor Shitov, for making the foul, and Dmitri Shomko for protesting.

Earlier, Leigh Griffiths netted another penalty in first-half stoppage time, only for Agim Ibraimi to level the tie on aggregate midway through the second half.

"Both penalty takers showed wonderful composure in a pressure game," Rodgers said. "But Moussa especially for a boy who has just turned 20.

"He has been playing catch-up in his fitness, but he's got quality and that's why he was coveted by so many teams."

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