Rodgers hopes to reward fans with Europa boost

Boss Brendan Rodgers is looking to give Celtic fans a Champions League send-off by qualifying for the Europa League against Anderlecht tonight, writes Ronnie Esplin.

Rodgers hopes to reward fans with Europa boost

The Hoops go into their final Group B fixture three points ahead of the Belgian side thanks to their 3-0 away win in September.

Paris St Germain and Bayern Munich are already qualified for the knockout stages and Anderlecht arrived in Glasgow knowing they have to equal or better that result against the Scottish champions to take third spot and ensure Europa League football after Christmas.

The Belgian club’s boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck all but wrote off his side’s chances but Rodgers is having none of it as he looks for a first home group stage win in his two seasons as manager.

“For us it is 0-0,” said Rodgers, who confirmed striker Moussa Dembele and midfielder Nir Bitton return to the squad after recovering from knocks.

“We want to win the game but of course you have to pay attention to a good opponent.

“But we haven’t overly thought about it, we have been busy with lots of other games but in this game we have to be tactically ready and prepared and we know if we do that then that can equate to a good result for ourselves.

“We got a great result over there and we look to finish it off at home.

“The supporters have been incredible for us home and away but it would be nice for us to finish with a victory at home and take us to six points which will show a real level of progress.”

Celtic skipper Scott Brown will play his 69th Champions League game, which breaks the Scottish record for a player set by former Scotland, Celtic, and Liverpool striker Kenny Dalglish.

The former Swansea and Liverpool boss said: “He is in great company with Kenny, a real legend here at this club and at Liverpool also.

“It tells you the mark of Scott’s consistency to have played the number of games and to have been chosen for those games by various managers.”

Anderlecht boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck is bracing himself for a “devastating” start. Vanhaezebrouck, who was not in charge when the sides met in September, outlined the problems his side could face in front of a packed stadium.

“For us, the ultimate thing is to score three times more than Celtic.

“The timing of the first goal isn’t important at all. We can score halfway through the second half and still go for it.

“I can already predict what’s going to happen tomorrow. There will be noise as soon as we come on the pitch. The crowd will be behind them - and they will fly like hell. So we are going to have to be ready because the start will be possibly devastating.

“If we can survive and stay level, then maybe we have a chance.”

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