Ange Postecoglou praised Celtic for finding the Dutch courage to make their way into the Europa League group stage.
Kyogo Furuhashi’s seventh goal in seven games gave the Parkhead squad a dream start and an overall 3-0 lead over AZ Alkmaar after two minutes and ten seconds.
Shell shocked by a disastrous defensive error by new keeper Joe Hart and an own goal by Carl Starfelt, however, panic set in before and after halftime.
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou praised his side for avoiding a difficult draw with AZ Alkmaar
Joe Hart (pictured) made a goalkeeper howl, but saved his side with some great saves
Forced to calm the fear that screeched through his side during halftime, Postecoglou admitted his transition team was far from finished.
Relieved to get through a test of nerves, the introduction of Odsonne Edouard over the last half hour played a big part in securing a place in today’s Europa League group draw. The flip side came as injuries to Talisman Furuhashi and left-back Greg Taylor both cast doubt on Sunday’s Old Firm game at Ibrox
“We’ve just lost faith,” admitted the former Australia boss. “Our evolution as a team will depend on how we overcome the challenges we face. Tonight the challenge was how we would react to the individual mistakes we made.
“We didn’t react well to that at first. In the last 30 minutes of the first half we doubted ourselves, got worried and worried we would make another mistake. We had to break that barrier.
“I told the players that fear is the biggest barrier to progress and we had to take that out of our game. Mistakes will happen: we just have to react better and believe in our football.”
The perfect start with Furuhashi’s early striker, veteran keeper Hart hesitated a defensive distance and gave AZ an equalizer. When the new £4million Starfelt cut the ball into his own net, AZ threatened to take advantage of Celtic’s collapse.
‘It’s two people, they’re going to make mistakes.
“What was more important to me was what we did next and how we responded.
“Mistakes will happen: we just have to react better and believe in our football,” he said
“In the first half we were a bit lost as we tried to recover and they got momentum.
“We started the game well, we scored the goal and started to play really well.
“But the two goals put us back.
“We dug in when we had to in the second half.
“Joe was clearly disappointed with the mistake in the first half. But he made some excellent saves.
Carl defended very well in the second half.
“Mistakes are part of football, it’s the reaction that matters.
“It was a different kind of performance. We had to make an effort in the second half.
“When you give away two goals, you know the opponent will have confidence and momentum.
“But it’s great that we showed that resilience and that the players got their reward for it.”
Stephen Welsh (left) and David Turnbull (right) celebrate Celtic qualifying for the group stage
Losing left-back Taylor to a shoulder injury could put young Adam Montgomery up against Rangers. Star Signing Furuhashi is also a doubt after limping a few minutes before the end.
“We just need to talk about Greg. He has a shoulder problem, but we don’t know the extent of it yet.
“Obviously we have a pretty quick turnaround and we just need to see if he recovers in time.
“I thought Monty looked excellent, a young player, knowing that we will have to defend a good part of the game.
“The rest, I think… Kyogo took a beating.
“We’ve been on a big shift, so it’s going to be recovery for the next 24, 48 hours.”
Japanese winger Kyogo Furuhashi has scored seven goals in his last seven appearances for Celtic
From the start on the bench, Odsonne Edouard remains a subject of intense transfer speculation in the closing days of the window. His importance was highlighted by a game-changing performance as a substitute for the last half hour, but the Frenchman could now start at Ibrox.
‘We’re going to assess that. Odsonne came into action and did something for us again – he held the ball well, so he can certainly be an option for Sunday.’
Shamrock Rovers defender Liam Scales is expected to join before the deadline. Despite the brutal exposure of defensive vulnerabilities, the Celtic boss insists there is no need for panic buying.
“I understand that people tend to look at things in isolation and that two players made mistakes tonight, but I don’t see it that way. I look at the overall picture and thought for the most part we defended well and it was individual mistakes that cost us: their goals didn’t come from defensive failures.
“Both players recovered from those mistakes and contributed to our victory.
“We keep working on things. I’ve already said we’re not the finished product – we can’t be at this stage. You have to keep things in perspective: it’s been a huge month for us and we have another big game on Sunday.’
Praised for attacking football which netted 24 goals in the previous six matches, Celtic had to show a different side by closing a test night.
“Listen, it’s not always smooth sailing, passing teams off the field and scoring five goals,” captain Calum McGregor said.
“It is important for us to learn from the experience tonight.
‘It’s nice that we got through, but it doesn’t really mean anything if you don’t learn from it.
“When you run into opponents who want to squeeze you, you have to go that little bit faster, you have to trust yourself, trust your mate on the ball. In the second half there was probably a 20 minute period where we kept the ship a little bit stable and we got through the game.”
“Of course we know how important group football is for the club, what it brings to the club, how important it is for the supporters. The league now has fewer teams in it, so the quality of the opponents is now higher. It’s great for us to still be in the mix and be in the group stage.”