BOSS Brendan Rodgers insists his Celtic side played with “personality” in the 1-1 Champions League Group C draw with Borussia Monchengladbach which keeps hopes of European football in the New Year alive.
In a spirited performance by the visitors at a packed and noisy Borussia-Park attacker Scott Sinclair crashed a shot off the post in the 23rd minute before home captain Lars Stindl, who had opened the scoring in their 2-0 win in Glasgow, volleyed in after 32 minutes to give the Bundesliga side the interval lead.
However, the Hoops did not let their heads drop and in the 76th minute Monchengladbach defender Julian Korb was shown a straight red card by Portuguese referee Manuel De Sousa for pulling Moussa Dembele down in the box and the French striker slotted in the penalty.
With two fixtures remaining against Barcelona and Manchester City, the Parkhead side have two points from four games and sit at the bottom of the table.
However, they could still qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament permutations permitting or, more likely but not easily, get into the Europa League.
Rodgers said: “I thought we should have won the game. I thought we were the best team. I am really proud of the team tonight.
“I said to them that in order for us to improve we need to play with personality and the personality we showed in the game was outstanding.
“We were very brave on the ball, opened up the pitch to play, secured and built the game, created chances, with speed on the counter attack and we had chances to win.
“We hit the crossbar, we should have scored in the end.
“What was important was to get a result. But going into the game I said to the players, win lose or draw the game, I want us to play with that personality to show that we can come to a really tough place – anywhere in Europe – and perform and I think the players deserve a huge amount of credit.
“They stayed calm, passed the ball and like I say it keeps us in there fighting.
“We always knew it was going to be a difficult group but to come here and make that result, and more importantly for me the performance, made me very proud and it is another step forward for this team.”
The Northern Irishman paid tribute to Dembele’s calmness with the penalty afterthe French striker had a spot-kicked saved in the 7-0 defeat by Barcelona in theNou Camp.
He said: “It was a big moment for him and I am sure it went through his head but he showed great composure.
“He is a very good penalty taker and we have a number of them and he showed great composure against a top class keeper and set up the last 15 minutes.
“I thought he was immense tonight, for a 20-year-old boy to perform like that.
“He started loose but his presence, quality and strength really disturbed their back four.”
Rodgers acknowledged that substitute Callum McGregor missed a good chance near the end to snatch what would have been a dramatic victory, pulling his shot wide of the target with only goalkeeper Yan Sommer to beat.
The former Swansea and Liverpool boss said: “We should have scored. He has either got to score or square it to finish.
“He has arrived into the box, had his shot but unfortunately for us it didn’t go in.
“It is very important to create the opportunity but that was probably the moment we felt we could win it.”
Monchengladbach remain in third place with four points and boss Andre Schubertsaid: “We had the chance to win in the early stages and should have closed thedeal basically but the penalty and red card made it tough.
“We had some chances in the second half as well but we had to be aware of counter-attacks.
“It would have been a great step if we had won but we need to accept the result and I am glad that in the second half after the red card nothing worse happened.
“We need to be satisfied with that point.”