Lincoln Red Imps 1-0 Celtic: Brendan Rodgers’ debut ends in embarrassment after Lee Casciaro gives part-timers the edge in Champions League qualifier

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

And Brendan Rodgers was brought in to avoid the recent trend of early-season European embarrassments? Right. Upon closer inspection, the problems clearly run too deep for one man, given one pre-season, to put right.

All of this team’s old failings – the softness, the inability to respond to pressure, the glaring lack of leadership in key areas of the park – were laid bare here.

If Rodgers already suspected he had taken on a major rebuilding job, now he knows. He may even have decided that complete demolition of the existing structure is required.

Because the utter humiliation Celtic suffered, even allowing for all of the usual midsummer excuses deployed in defence of Scottish stumbles in Europe, must inevitably bring drastic repercussions for the men who brought ignominy upon themselves and their team.

The part-timers beat the time-wasters? That’s about right. And, whatever those meaningless statistics about possession might say, regardless of Celtic hitting the woodwork twice, the firemen, taxi drivers and customs officers only got what they deserved.

Now, it is only logical to assume that Celtic will put things right when they face the mighty Lincoln Red Imps, champions of all Gibraltar, on home turf – real turf – in Glasgow next Wednesday. You’d still get long odds on anything but a hefty home win at Celtic Park.

But the history books will show that, in his first competitive game as manager, Rodgers was on the wrong end of the biggest upset in the history of European club football. Chew on that for the next week, Celtic fans. And you thought the ‘embarrassments’ of Malmo, Maribor et al were hard to take.

Speaking after the game, Rodgers said: ‘It was a game that we dominated and had enough chances to score, but sometimes it can happen in games like that, one ball up the pitch and they’re in.

‘We’ve given ourselves a bit of work to do. I saw enough from the game, we created enough to go through. Of course you never want to lose the game. You let the local team have their night, we press on, another week’s training and be better for it.

‘There’s no embarrassment. We never took our chances and they took theirs. The second leg will be different.
‘There’s no panic. We’ve got enough quality here to get through to the next round. It’s a two-legged affair, our objective is to get through. I think the players gave everything that they had. The message (to the fans) is to stay calm. I always felt this qualification phase would be based on the second legs at home and we’ll need their support.

‘It’s congratulations to them. It’s a good win for them. For us we accept it. Over the course of the two games if we didn’t get through I’d be concerned. We have to put it right in the next game. We’re making no excuses. We’ll be fine for the second game.’