Brendan Rodgers told Jozo Simunovic he could have no complaints about his red card against Alashkert as the Celtic boss began patching together a defence for Rosenborg.
The Croatian international was sent packing for a wild, high boot on Brazilian striker Jefferson just 11 minutes into a 3-0 win over the Armenians that saw Celtic go through 6-0 on aggregate.
The defender will miss the home leg against the Norwegians on Wednesday – with the possibility of an additional ban if UEFA’s disciplinary committee see fit.
Jozo Simunovic was sent off after only 11 minutes into Celtic’s 3-0 win over Alashkert
With Mikael Lustig and Dedryck Boyata yet to return from World Cup duty and Marvin Compper injured again, Rodgers is struggling to piece together a central defence for the second qualifying tie.
But he had no issue with Romanian ref Horatiu Fesnic’s decision to send Simunovic packing – claiming the outcome was almost inevitable in Europe.
‘In European football it’s always difficult when your foot is that high,’ said Rodgers.
Simunovic was sent off for a wild and high boot on Alashkert’s Brazilian striker Jefferson
‘I thought the referee could have kept him on the pitch and given him a warning because I don’t think it was intentional.
‘The ball was popped back at him quickly and he’s raised his boot which has caught their player.
‘It was the same player who elbowed Kieran Tierney in the face.
‘He tried to cushion the header back to his team-mate and it’s come back to him quickly. It was just an impulsive thing really, he was going for the ball.
‘But in European football, you normally get punished for that.’ Concerned at his lack of options ahead of next week’s home match, Rodgers might now have to accelerate bringing either Lustig or Boyata back into the side.
‘It gives us a problem but that’s all it’s been for us. Every pre-season there is always an issue with centre-halves.
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers said Simunovic could have no complaints after being sent off
‘Marvin has a problem with his adductor, so we’ll see how that is, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll be available.
‘With Boyata, I don’t know – I’ll need to assess that over the next few days.
‘With Mika, it’s a possibility but we have to respect he’s been at the World Cup and played a long season.’ Asked if he hoped Simunovic would learn from his error, Rodgers said: ‘Hopefully. The important thing was how we dealt with it, we were really calm and weren’t flustered, we still tried to attack the game. We put James Forrest, who was brilliant, at right-back and we still looked to have that intent to attack.’ Celtic now face Rosenborg for a second successive season having met them in the penultimate qualifying round a year ago.
‘They were two tight games the last time we played,’ said Rodgers.
‘They’ll come here and be compact, like last year, and we have to be patient. It will be a tough game out there.’ Two-goal Moussa Dembele hobbled off on Wednesday but Rodgers confirmed it was due to tightness in his hamstring as opposed to an injury.