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Playing me next to Tom Rogic was not to blame for Celtic’s heavy Bodo/Glimt defeats, says Matt O’Riley

MATT O’Riley has dismissed suggestions that Celtic lost their UEFA Conference League knockout round play-off with Bodo/Glimt because Ange Postecoglou fielded him alongside Tom Rogic in midfield.

O’Riley and Rogic started both of the games against the Norwegian champions and were unable to prevent their Glasgow club slumping to a 5-1 aggregate defeat and crashing out of the new competition.

Many fans and pundits claimed that selecting two playmakers against opponents who had gone undefeated in the group stages left the cinch Premiership leaders too exposed at the back.

However, the English-born footballer enjoyed being deployed next to the Australian internationalist and felt there were other factors which contributed to the heavy loss.

The 21-year-old, a £1.5m signing from MK Dons in January, argued that Celtic had failed to deal with Bodo’s attacking gameplan and had not been clinical enough up front. 

“Good players can play with good players and the defensive side of things comes down to more than just two players,” he said.

“We’ve only started two games together and it’s been against, arguably, the best team we’ve faced this season. So it’s never going to be easy. If we started with a different midfield, it could have been worse – or better.

“It comes down to more than that. As a team, we just weren’t good enough on or off the ball. We got picked off at times.” 

O’Riley added: “There were numerous factors to it. In the league, we’re used to teams who sit deep against us – they all play a similar way.

“Bodo were different because they were more expansive. When they were able to beat our press, they looked dangerous on the counter attack.

“That was a new challenge for us to deal with and it’s where they really punished us. They were clinical going forward.

“We didn’t play our best at Celtic Park but I still don’t think it was a 3-1 game. It felt like every shot they had went in.

“We just weren’t good enough in the final third. It came down to both boxes and they were better in ours than we were in theirs.

“And even though we lost, I still felt we showed enough to get more than that overall result.”

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