Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
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Rodgers insists Celtic are looking forward to Europa League return leg against Valencia

Brendan Rodgers has insisted that his Celtic charges are looking forward to the challenge of overturning their two goal deficit against Valencia. 

The Spanish outfit defeated the Hoops 2-0 on their own patch last week, capitalising on some uncharacteristic defensive mistakes to take a commanding lead in the Europa League round of 32 tie.

Celtic must now score two or more goals and not concede any at the Mestalla Stadium to have any hope of progressing to the next round.

Rodgers was disappointed by the performance and admitted the scoreline will be difficult to overturn, but is adamant his side still has a chance against Valencia.

“It’s a game that we look forward to,” Rodgers told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

“We obviously have to work our way into the game. If we think back to our home leg, we started well and lost our way a little bit. We conceded just before and after half-time, which broke our rhythm in the game.

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“On Thursday, it’ll be important to be defensively compact, tight and concentrated. And then when we have the ball we must look to create opportunities. The first goal will be very important.”

“An early goal isn’t very important, it’s more about not giving anything away. Our focus is on bringing our game. If we can get that first goal, that will give the team that extra confidence to go and get another.

“Last week was disappointing and we lost our way a little bit. After any disappointing performance, we’ve always tried to analyse it openly and honestly. We had to be concentrated on Sunday to get a result and we eventually did that.

“That’s been the make-up of this group since I came. We can come back again tomorrow night. It’ll be a challenge. If I look at the game and ask if we have a chance – the answer is: Of course, we do. Even if it will be difficult.

“The result and how we performed in Sunday’s game [against Kilmarnock] will give us confidence but this is a different game and different level. What we need to ensure is that in the moments of pressure we can stay strong and stay compact. It’s a challenge for us, but we’re really looking forward to it.”

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