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Rodgers: Celtic win showed how much players have developed

The manager said his team could have scored more in the 5-0 win over Astana.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised his players after their emphatic 5-0 victory over Astana and said the result was proof of how they had progressed in the last year.

The Scottish champions take what looks like an unassailable lead to Kazakhstan for the second leg of their play-off on Tuesday and seem almost certain to be in the group stages of the Champions League.

Rodgers said his players had excelled at Celtic Park and singled out midfielder Nir Bitton after the Israeli stepped back to cover in defence once again.

"It was a brilliant team performance and another measure of how much the players have developed from this stage last season," he said.

"I think it's another tick to the box of where we want to go as a team, having that maturity.

"We've played players out of position. Nir Bitton, we had everyone talking about him playing centre-half. He's made less mistakes than I've seen actual centre-halves make in positions. 

"Of course he's not going to be perfect but his ability to control the game with the ball, and his ability to read the game and defend forward is very helpful for us. Those players played the shape very well and when they had to defend they defended magnificently."

Rodgers said his side were in such control of the match they could have run up an even more convincing scoreline. 

"It's a huge credit to them," he said. "I think the composure was the key thing. If you look at how we managed the game and how we controlled the possession and then waited for the opportunities to create.

"We actually scored five goals and could have had one or two more."

With a place in the elite stage in the competition against Europe's top teams at stake, not to mention at least £25m, the Celtic boss said he felt his team handled the occasion well.

"At this stage of the competition where it's a huge pressure game I think you have to give a massive credit to the players," he said.

"How composed they were throughout the game, the quality.

"I thought we started ok . They tried to press us high and at times we had one or two misplaced passes early on but then we grew into the game. 

"The first goal was a fantastic goal in terms of showing our patience with the ball, making good angles and then we break their lines and attack the space. Tom's goal was a little bit like the Scottish Cup final goal.

"That really settled us. I think from then we passed the ball and were nice and compact when we had it."

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