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Mikael Lustig insists Celtic will work through defensive problems

Celtic have much to ponder at the back (SNS Group / Bill Murray)
Celtic have much to ponder at the back (SNS Group / Bill Murray)

MIKAEL LUSTIG confident Celtic will work through the defensive problems which are causing consternation to boss Brendan Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman was distressed by the concession of another soft goal in the first leg of their Europa League play-off against Suduva.

Rodgers had already lamented the defending in the 2-1 defeat at AEK Athens which saw the Scottish champions exit the Champions League at the third qualifying round stage.

That frustration was revisited in the 13th minute in Lithuania when Ovidijus Verbickas slipped easily into the box to head a free-kick from Vaidas Slavickas past keeper Craig Gordon.

Lustig, who came on early in the second half for the injured Jozo Simunovic, said: “I have been here before, when it feels like every shot is going in.

“But you still need to work hard and still believe that we are a good defence.

“Sometimes we can do better, like against Athens.

“Overall, I thought we defended really well, but when they get the chances, they scored.

“But football is about scoring goals and we need to be better on that.

“You have to just believe in the way we have played for the last two years.

“Of course, it is hard at the moment.

“But if you just think everything is a problem and you don’t want to take care of the ball – and not do the things we know we are good at –then it is going to be hard to come out of it.

“But we need to stay together as a team, as a club, and work from there.

“We have more or less the same players as last year and last year was quite good.

“So we still believe in ourselves”

Despite what Lustig described as “a quite strange game” against Suduva, the 31-year-old Sweden international is optimistic Celtic can put it right against the Lithuanian champions this Thursday.

He said: “We had a good start, especially when we scored early.

“We were quite comfortable, that we were going to win the game.

“But they got their goal, a really good free-kick, so it was 1-1 and we should have scored more goals.

“It is a good game next week to try to make things better again”.