BRENDAN Rodgers said that Celtic’s continental ambition is to win the Europa League - but first they have to get in it.

With two matches remaining in Group B, Anderlecht could still pip the Parkhead side for third spot, although the Belgians are three points back in the table and must visit Glasgow in the group's final matchday . “We want to win,” said Rodgers.

“That’s what we want to do in the competition. There are a few more games to go beforehand, but against Anderlecht at home, we want to be finishing up in Europe after Christmas. If we do that, it’s a great symbol of the work the players are putting in. It’s a good marker for us going forward.

Read more: Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben praises Brendan Rodgers' influence on Celtic's style​

"PSG at home was disappointing, but then you see them beating Anderlecht 5-0 and beat Bayern 3-0,” said Rodgers. “We have to be realistic about the competition we face. But that Bayern performance shows we are moving in the right direction. If we can close this competition out over the last couple of games to get into Europe beyond Christmas, then it’s a great sign for us."

There were no points for him and his team on Tuesday night against Bayern Munich, but it wasn’t just idle conjecture when the Northern Irishman claimed Celtic earned new-found respect against the Bavarian giants on Tuesday night. The Parkhead manager can say it with some certainty because he heard it first-hand. Arjen Robben, with whom he retains a close relationship from their days at Chelsea and Spanish playmaker Thiago Alcantra were among those who complimented the Parkhead manager about the standard of his side’s play after the final whistle.

“What they earned against Bayern was a lot of respect from Bayern Munich,” said Rodgers. “That was what Arjen was saying on the side of the field and young Thiago afterwards. They complimented the level of the performance and the fact it was the best atmosphere they had been in.

Read more: Stuart Armstrong believes James Forrest is Celtic's unsung hero

“They were outstanding - that’s what they were saying.,” he added. “So it’s a nice little pat on the back for them. We are disappointed to lose the game of course, especially after working so hard to come back and get the equaliser. But Bayern knew they were in a game and it was a great credit to our players and the supporters, because it was an amazing atmosphere.”

At some points during this campaign, Rodgers’ insistence that Celtic’s liberal sprinkling of academy products, the best domestic players available and a couple of bargain continental transfers, could play their usual attacking brand of football and still live against Europe’s elite clubs has appeared naïve, but no-one was ridiculing that suggestion on Tuesday night.

The evidence was there in front of his eyes. Possession was eventually rounded to 51%: 49% in the Bavarian giants‘ favour, with Celtic completing a creditable 517 passes to Bayern’s 590 on the night. The Parkhead side were hardly found wanting in terms of fitness, covering almost a kilometre more. They won five corners to Munich’s four; fired in eleven total shots to Munich’s nine, four of each of which were on target. So don’t tell Rodgers that young Scottish players like Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Stuart Armstrong aren’t developing their games at this level.

Read more: Kieran Tierney is a "special talent" who loves Celtic as much as Tommy Burns or Peter Grant

“It’s a process - you can’t just click your fingers and make it happen,” the Celtic manager said. “So for our players to come and play with that quality in that atmosphere makes me very proud. They held it, stayed composed against Robben etc. They showed the confidence they have.

“In the last two groups of the Champions League we have arguably played against four of the top six teams in the world,” he added. “A year on, you see the progress of the likes of those boys. Just a confidence to play and understand the game tactically. We see it as a process and we want to get better and better.”

No better illustration was there on the night than the goal which finally unlocked Bayern Munich’s defence - something which should have happened far earlier were it not for some nerves in front of goal. “The goal is top, top quality,” said Rodgers. “And it was two Scottish boys involved in it - a brilliant piece of skill by James [Forrest]and then the run and finish from Callum is sensational. All those boys, the Scottish boys, can be very proud. They are playing in a way that allows them to develop and showcase what top talents they can be. The more experience they get at this level the better it bodes for Celtic and Scotland.”

Read more: Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben praises Brendan Rodgers' influence on Celtic's style​

Now, armed with the knowledge of how to succeed in the Champions League, he expects even more in the way of development. “It’s very easy to be pragmatic and sit in, but it gives you pride when you see players play like that," he said. "And when they do play like that they are only going to get better and gain more confidence from it. They can then go on and see what they can achieve.

“The vision is simple. Win titles, as many as possible. Cups, leagues. Play an attacking and aggressive style of football to win and with a number of players from the Academy base. It’s always been the vision and the vision we are rolling out into the reality. The club and the players are getting their rewards, but we have to keep developing. That’s the key message.”