Stuart Armstrong says Celtic still pained by flop in Gibraltar

Stuart Armstrong insists Celtic cannot take victory for granted against a “good” Lincoln Red Imps side in next week’s Champions League qualifier at Parkhead.
Stuart Armstrong says Celtic still pained by flop in Gibraltar

European football was stunned by the Hoops’ 1-0 defeat to the part-timers from Gibraltar at the Victoria Stadium on Tuesday night when an early second-half goal from Ministry of Defence police officer Lee Casciaro heaped embarrassment on Brendan Rodgers in his first game as Celtic boss.

If, as expected, the Scottish champions turn it around on Wednesday night, they will play Astana of Kazakhstan or Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania in the third qualifying round, with that tie goalless from the first leg.

However, midfielder Armstrong refused to look any further forward than the return game against Lincoln, which comes after Saturday’s home friendly against German side Wolfsburg, saying: “We’ll focus on each game as it comes and we’ve got a good friendly tomorrow and an important game on Wednesday.”

Asked if it was difficult to ensure there would not be a sense of just having to turn up against Lincoln to go through, the 24-year-old said: “Well, definitely not, as we’ve seen. We can’t just turn up and expect to win. We will have to fight for it and they will be fighting for it too. There is always that pressure to win at Celtic and that is something that we are used to.

“They were a good side, they played some nice stuff. There is no doubt about it, we should have been a lot better and won the game but that wasn’t the case but credit to them, they had some nice parts of play.

“It is what it is and we lost and everyone is upset about it, rightly so and we are looking to train well this week, (get some) good preparation tomorrow and go again on Wednesday. It was a tough one to take for us and the fans and we are looking forward to next week to make amends. We are confident and that is the way we will be going into the next game, thinking we can win.”

Armstrong, who came on as a second-half substitute in Gibraltar, was keen to stress that Rodgers is still trying to formulate the way forward for the Parkhead club.

He said: “We’ve talked about the game and we’re fresh in training today, trying new things and everyone is feeling confident again so we’re looking for that approach again today.

“It’s still early days and everyone is fighting for a place in the team.

“We are still very much on board with the new philosophies and how he wants to play. (Wolfsburg) are a very good side, probably the best side we will have faced so far, so the tempo will be high, it will be on a nice surface and I think it will be a good game.”

The third-round ties will be played on July 26/27 and August 2/3.

The draw, held in Nyon, Switzerland, was preceded by a moment’s silence for the Nice attack on Thursday night.

Welsh minnows The New Saints will face either Rosenborg of Norway or Swedish side Norrkoping if they come through their second-round tie against Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia, which is goalless after the first leg.

Ireland’s Dundalk, currently tied at 1-1 with Icelandic champions FH Hafnarfjordur, have been drawn to face either BATE Borisov of Belarus or SJK Seinajoki of Finland.

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