PAULO BERNARDO admits he is “enjoying it a lot” as he displays some excellent form after a slow start to his season-long loan at Celtic.

The Benfica playmaker scored the breakthrough goal for the third time in four games when he effortlessly chipped the ball into the Buckie Thistle net in the holders’ 5-0 Scottish Cup romp at Parkhead yesterday.

The victory set up the Hoops for a fifth round visit to Paisley to take on St Mirren next month.

Bernardo paved the way for the 3-0 success over Dundee at Dens Park on Boxing Day and he also thumped the champions into the lead in the 2-1 derby triumph in the east end of Glasgow four days later.

NET PROFIT…delighted loan Bhoy Paulo Bernardo poses as the ball is safely in the Buckie Thistle rigging to trigger Celtic’s five-goal romp.

The transformation in the 21-year-old Portuguese performer’s display have been startling, but he remains coy about his next move with a return to the Lisbon giants due at the start of June when his temporary transfer expires.

Asked about his future, the gifted Bernardo answered: “I just think about the present, game by game, how I can improve.

“Then the other things will happen. I am enjoying it a lot. The fans are unbelievable and they like me, so I am feeling good, too.

“I just have to keep going and doing things well.”

Quizzed if he has spoken to Brendan Rodgers about the possibility of a permanent deal. he replied: “No. He and me just want to keep things going well and to improve a lot.”

Bernardo played the entire game against the stubborn Highlanders whose resistance crumbled in the 25th minute when the stylish midfielder clipped in the first.

Odin Holm, with his first strike for the club, whipped in No.2 and Kyogo Furuhashi tapped in a low cross from comeback Bhoy Liel Abada for the third before the interval. Lous Palma zipped in a spectacular fourth before Rocco Vata also claimed his debut goal for the Hoops to bring down the curtain on a solid work-out.

JUST THE LOB…Paulo Bernardo lifts the ball over Buckie Thistle keeper Stuart Knight to open the scoring.

Reflecting on his baptism in the national competition, Bernardo, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It was good. To win 5-0 was a great way for us to come back after the winter break.

“It’s our job to score goals. We have to respect the other team and never put the foot on the brake.

“We did that well. We played a good game and enjoyed playing back at Celtic Park. I have to do my best. Happily, everything is going well for me, but I want to do more.

“I think I can do better in the second half of the season. I have to improve a lot in my game, so I just have to continue to work hard and everything is going to go well.

“It’s my job to score goals too. I have to continue to improve and score goals and make assists, because now the football is like that.”

Bernardo added: “It’s about how much game time I have. I think now I understand a lot more than I did in the beginning. I feel more comfortable with the team’s tactics and I understand more about the other players, too.

”Competition is always good for the team because it keeps all the players at a good level. It’s good for me and for the team, too.”


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