ANGE Postecoglou will urge his Celtic players to go on the offensive in the Europa League play-off rematch with AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands next week - even though he knows doing so could gift the Dutch club scoring chances.

Postecoglou’s team stretched their winning run to five games in the first leg tie at Parkhead last night thanks to a first-half strike from Kyogo Furuhashi and a second-half Timo Letschert own goal.

But Pascal Jansen’s side had several opportunities themselves and only two outstanding saves from Joe Hart in the opening 45 minutes prevented them from netting.

However, the Celtic manager will refuse to send his players out to defend in the AFAS Stadion next Thursday because he feels it will have a negative impact on his game plan.

“I’m not one to go mad over clean sheets,” he said. “It’s about how we defend. For the most part, we did it very well – although Joe had to make some good saves at times. 

“They’ve got some real good threats, but we kept them to a minimum and worked awfully hard in our pressing.  

“Everyone said we would get challenged. And we did.  We maybe didn’t dominate the game in the way we have others but, at the same time, we didn’t change our approach. That’s an important thing for us to overcome in these early stages of building something.” 

He added: “If you want to play an expansive game, you have to understand that the opposition will try to take advantage of mistakes. 

“If we continually try to play out from the back and be brave, that means there will be times when they win the ball and create something. 

“But that’s okay. Once you start thinking about trying to minimise risks, you take away from what we’re trying to do. They had chances, we had more chances. And we won the game. 

“My approach is they’re a good side. If you start think about protection, you play into their hands. If we go there to protect what we have, you give them more of the ball, more opportunities to threaten you. 

“We will go there and try to do what we did here – deny them the ball, try to put them on the back foot, be aggressive, so the moments they have will be fewer than if we sat back.”

Postecoglou was delighted that Callum McGregor and his team mates stuck to their game plan against AZ despite the pressure they were put under in the first leg of the play-off.  

“It was a cracking game of football,” he said. “They’re a good team and they took it to us at times, so we had to work hard and show some resilience. 

“The pleasing thing for me is we didn’t yield – and we didn’t change our approach. We still tried to be brave and, even when it didn’t work out, we got right back on the horse and went again. 

“We were rewarded with our goals and, halfway through the tie, we’re two up.”

Furuhashi, a £4.6m signing from Vissel Kobe in his native Japan last month, took his tally in Scotland to six in what was only his sixth appearance for Celtic.

But former Yokohama F Marinos manager Postecoglou was just as pleased with the work the 26-year-old put in tracking back as he was with his first-half effort.

“He’s always a threat, always causing problems with the positions he takes,” he said. “As a smart footballer.. 

“But you saw how hard he worked tonight. Defensively, he puts in a tremendous shift.  He’s another one we would love to have a break, soak it all in and enjoy it.  But we’ve got to keep playing him because we’re building momentum.”