Watch the Interview – ‘The referee took the game away from us,’ Brendan

BRENDAN RODGERS is usually very reluctant to criticise poor refereeing decision but tonight he was clearly upset that “the game was taken away” from Celtic by the decision taken by controversial German referee Deniz Aytekin to send off Jeremy Toljan shortly before the interval in the Mestalla this evening.

Celtic were on top and had the home side worried as they searched for the opening goal but after Toljan second yellow that changed, much to the annoyance of a Celtic manager who leaves Valencia very proud of hi team.

Here’s what Brendan had top say after the match.

“I thought the referee took the game away from us. That was disappointing. I thought the players came together but I didn’t think it was a second yellow card,” Brendan said.

“I thought it was a free-kick to us the player has come on the blindside and made contact with Jeremy.

“I spoke to the referee just after the game and he said it was a definite sending-off. But I thought it was really harsh. You just sensed we were building into the game and it was disappointing.

“That was a key moment that took the game away from us. It’s unfortunate. That changed the dynamic of the game but the bravery of the players was incredible, they kept going and they made chances.

“They tired a little bit towards the end. But the difference over the two games was that in the key moments in the game we haven’t defended so well.

“But overall I thought we were excellent, I was very proud of the team. With the performance tonight, our supporters will be very proud of the team, having that courage to come and play and force the game against a very good side.

“I said last week we started the game well but if you make mistakes at this level you’ll get punished. Unfortunately for us, that’s what has cost us.

“Here, I thought we were much the superior team up until the point of the red card.

“I think our shape and everything worked really well for us. We started the game ever so well, nice and tight defensively, pressing at the right times.

“We had confidence not just to keep the ball but we carried a threat in our penetration. It looked like we were going to get that goal we craved.

“You are always looking to improve. It’s maybe difficult for us. But we can’t give up hope. You saw the team play very, very well tonight.

“We have to look to qualify for European competition again next season and try to progress.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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