Ange Postecoglou pleased with Celtic progress in European competition after ending group stage campaign with victory over Real Betis

The Parkhead’s second-string claimed a 3-2 win over the Spanish outfit who sit third in La Liga

Ange Postecoglou believes his Celtic squad have shown signs of progress after ending their Europa League group stage campaign with a 3-2 victory over Real Betis at Parkhead.

Goals from Stephen Welsh, Ewan Henderson and David Turnbull cancelled out Borja Iglesias’ double to finish Group G in third spot on nine points.

Postecoglou’s side will now drop into the Europa Conference League after Christmas but the Australian head coach was pleased with the performance of his fringe players, many of whom were making their first-team debuts.

He told Celtic TV: “It was a competitive 90 minutes which is the way we wanted it to be. As I said before the game, there are no dead-rubbers for us.

“It was a great opportunity for some of the boys and credit to them, it wasn’t an easy night. We’ve thrown a few of them in that haven’t played in quite a while.

“The game was played at a great intensity, you could see how much Betis wanted to win because they threw everything at us, but we got there in the end which is a great reward for the players efforts.

“As I said to them afterwards, that is why we train hard and push them every day. They need to be ready when their opportunity comes and be able to show the best of themselves and they did that tonight.

“There’s no doubts we’ve been unlucky with injuries in certain areas where we don’t have depth but there is guys who have been working hard for their opportunity.

“I think getting 90 or 70 minutes into some of them will be important because we’ve still got seven games between now and the break, so we’re going to have to call on a lot of our boys and they’ve got to be ready for it.

“Apart from not qualifying, we’ve made progress against three very strong teams in our group. We’ve given a good account of ourselves in all the games. We’ve ended up with nine points and we’ll learn from that.”

Providing an update on the latest two players to suffer injuries, Postecoglou added: “Albian’s (Ajeti) injury didn’t look too good, which is a problem for us because we’ve got Giakoumakis out as well and obviously Kyogo going off leaves us very light in that area.”

Defender Stephen Welsh, who headed home the Hoops opening goal, was full of praise for the club’s youngsters who stepped up to make their European debuts.

Celtic defender Stephen Welsh celebrates his early goal in the Europa League match against Real Betis at Celtic Park. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Celtic defender Stephen Welsh celebrates his early goal in the Europa League match against Real Betis at Celtic Park. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Celtic defender Stephen Welsh celebrates his early goal in the Europa League match against Real Betis at Celtic Park. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

He admitted: “It’s always an exciting match when we play in Europe, there’s always a lot of goals for and against.

“We’re disappointed with the goals we conceded but to get the win against a very strong team is a good boost of confidence for us.

“There is no better feeling than scoring on a European night at Celtic Park, I can’t really describe how it feels.

“I thought the boys dug in well, we were a bit leggy towards the end but they’re a top side with some great players.

“The mentality is good in the squad. It was a very tough game for some players to come into but the boys who made their debuts put in some excellent performances.

“We’ve got an excellent group of players, with good quality and depth and that can only be a good thing for us moving forward because we’ve got a busy month.”