Brendan Rodgers slams Celtic defending in AEK Athens loss

Kyle Lafferty celebrates with Nikica Jelavic of Rangers after scoring during the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Rangers and Hearts at Ibrox Stadium
Dedryck Boyata refused to play for Celtic but Brendan Rodgers has other plans

15 August, 2018

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"We've got to stop the cross for the first and the second is poor defending", Rodgers said.

Brendan Rodgers described Dedryck Boyata's situation with Celtic as "sad" as he prepared for the crunch Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens on Tuesday night without the Belgium defender.

Socceroo Rogic started the match after a cameo role in Celtic's loss to Hearts on the weekend yet, try as he might, was unable to provide a breakthrough for Celtic in his 76 minutes on the pitch.

The Hoops have reached the group stages of the competition for the last two seasons but doing so again could be tricky following last week's 1-1 draw with AEK in the first leg.

Within six minutes his side were trailing to a Rodrigo Galo strike and it looked a forlorn task when Croatian striker Marko Livaja headed in a second five minutes after the break.

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Sinclair pulled one back in the 78th minute, inspiring hope among Celtic fans, but it proved to be merely a consolation goal as the Bhoys ran out of time.

Celtic will now go into the Europa League, where they will face either Lithuania's Suduva or Spartaks Jurmala of Latvia.

There were ominous signs for Celtic beforehand.

BRENDAN Rodgers has insisted Dedryck Boyata is fit and was not taken to Athens in case it hurt the spirit within the squad.

It was the start the Parkhead side had feared and moments later they nearly conceded a second when Victor Klonaridis, who scored in Glasgow last week, burst into the Hoops box but toe-poked a shot wide of the target from eight yards.

Boyata responded by posting a video of him receiving treatment.

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