(Reuters) – Celtic’s quest to overhaul a 2-0 deficit at Valencia and reach the Europa League last 16 became mission impossible after Jeremy Toljan was sent off in the first half on Thursday, manager Brendan Rodgers has said.
The German full back’s dismissal for a second booking in the 37th minute meant Celtic played with 10 men for nearly an hour before losing 1-0, as Valencia completed a 3-0 aggregate win.
“I thought the referee took the game away from us,” Rodgers told reporters.
“I spoke to the referee after the game. He said it was a definite sending-off. I thought it was really harsh.
“I thought it was a free-kick to us because the player came in on the blind side and sort of had contact with Jeremy, which knocked him over. That then changes the dynamic of the game.”
Rodgers said the Scottish champions began well and fought bravely until Kevin Gameiro’s 70th minute goal ended their hopes.
“I’m proud of them but if you make mistakes at this level defensively you’ll get punished,” he said. “Unfortunately for us, that’s cost us.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)