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Rodgers hails 'outstanding' O'Connell after Cork defender impresses on Champions League debut

Celtic secured an important away draw in Astana last night.

O'Connell has seized his chance during the early stages of this season.
O'Connell has seized his chance during the early stages of this season.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

CELTIC MANAGER BRENDAN Rodgers hailed his side’s “outstanding result” after securing a 1-1 draw at Astana in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier — and reserved special praise for Eoghan O’Connell.

The Cork-born defender has impressed during the early stages of the season and continued his fine form in Kazakhstan last night.

“I thought he was outstanding,” Rodgers said. ”For a young player, he has been on the fringes for a few years, coming into that environment, under pressure, he had very few mistakes in the game.

“You would expect him to make some as a young player but he coped in a very difficult situation.”

Celtic come away from the first leg in the driving seat despite going behind to Yuri Logvinenko’s early goal.

But Leigh Griffiths netted the crucial equaliser with 12 minutes remaining, giving Celtic the advantage on away goals ahead of next week’s return leg in Glasgow.

“It was an outstanding result for us. Collectively the mentality was the most pleasing thing,” said former Liverpool boss Rodgers.

“I think we were all written off before the game, everyone pretty clear in their opinion of the game, that we would do well to come back with anything other than a loss, but the players deserve an immense amount of credit, to fight and show spirit and passion in the game.

“The resilience and strength that we have built up over the course of the pre-season came into effect.

“I was disappointed with the goal, it is nothing new, but we showed a wonderful mentality to keep fighting and in the second half we restricted them to not so many clear chances and ended up scoring a fantastic goal.

“It is only half-time but [it is] a very important result for us.”

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