Postecoglou Celtic reign begins with draw

Ange Postecoglou's first competitive game as Celtic manager was a Champions League qualifier draw.
Ange Postecoglou's first competitive game as Celtic manager was a Champions League qualifier draw.

Ange Postecoglou insists Celtic cannot help but be better prepared for next week's Champions League clash with Midtjylland after their 1-1 draw at Parkhead in the manager's first competitive match in charge of the Scottish giants.

The new Hoops boss had voiced concerns over his squad's fitness and over how long it was taking to get new signings to the club before the first-leg of the second round qualifying tie against their Danish opposition but the hosts still managed to get off to a good start.

Recent Hoops signing Liel Abada, the 19-year-old Israeli winger, marked his competitive debut by scoring in the 37th minute.

However, Celtic defender Nir Bitton dampened the enthusiasm among the 9,000 home fans when he was sent off late in the first half for needlessly picking up the second of two yellow cards for remonstrating with Anders Dreyer after he had dived in the box.

Midtjylland winger Dreyer was sent off 10 minutes into the second half for a dive that resulted in a second caution and as the game swung from end to end Evander levelled for the visitors in the 66th minute from a free kick.

Despite his pre-game concerns, former Socceroos boss Postecoglou still managed to field a strong line-up with Australia international Tom Rogic coming off the bench in the 78th minute.

Rogic's Socceroos teammate Awer Mabil was a 72nd-minute substitute for Midtjylland.

The tie will shift to Denmark next week with the away goals rule not applying this season.

After an incident-packed encounter, Postecoglou said: "I can't ask any more of the players.

"We will be better prepared, no doubt, in eight days' time

"In fact, I don't think we will ever be as badly prepared as we were tonight going into such an important game and that's on me.

"It is, I'm the manager of the football club. I'm the one that takes that responsibility of providing support for the players and staff... I haven't done a great job so far to be honest because with the disruptions we've had, we haven't been able to bring the players in.

"My role is to try and reinforce this squad and to try to prepare this squad for what is ahead, and to their credit, the players didn't look for excuses tonight.

"They put in a solid shift and I'm just disappointed they didn't get the rewards for what I thought was an outstanding performance."

with AAP

Australian Associated Press