JOE HART has emphasised the belief Celtic have in themselves as they prepare for tomorrow’s Champions League Group F confrontation against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw.
Ange Postecoglou’s side go into a crucial encounter on the back of a 3-0 reverse against Real Madrid at Parkhead last week.
The Ukrainians, on the flip side, have been preparing in the Polish capital for the past two days after their remarkable 4-1 triumph over RB Leipzig in Germany, a result that brought immediate dismissal for the Bundesliga club’s boss Dominico Tedesco and assistant Andreas Hinkel, the former Hoops right-back.
NUMBER ONE…Joe Hart celebrates after Celtic’s 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on May 11 that sealed the club’s tenth title in 11 years.
The difference between success and nowhere was starkly highlighted in Glasgow a week ago today when Postecoglou’s side could have scored three goals before the European champions struck with a quickfire double to lead on the hour mark.
Callum McGregor smacked a blistering shot off the inside of the post and Liel Abada passed up a superb opportunity by firing a shot straight into the grateful arms of Thibaut Courtois when he had all of the goal to aim at.
Shortly after the turnaround, Daizen Maeda, on for the disappointing Israeli winger, fluffed an effort from eight yards and the Spaniards escaped for a third time.
In the 56th minute, Vinicius Junior was left completely unmarked to slide the opener beyond the blameless Hart after Josip Juranovic had been eliminated by the quality of a right-wing cross from Federico Valverde.
Four minutes later, Luka Modric danced in from the right to glide one past the stretching keeper off the outside of his right foot for the second and it was all over when Eden Hazard rolled in the third 13 minutes from time.
HELPLESS…Joe Hart is stranded as Vinicius Junior opens the scoring for Real Madrid while defender Josip Juranovic looks on.
Harsh lessons learned on the night and Celtic must show they have taken them on board. There are no second chances at this level.
The Parkhead side have four matches, two against Shakhtar and a double-header against RB Leipzig, before they bring down the curtain on the section in the Bernabeu on November 2.
The next six hours or so of football in Europe’s elite competition are absolutely vital and 75 times-capped 35-year-old England keeper Hart is convinced he and his team-mates can meet the challenges.
The former Manchester City No.1 said: “We’re not going to base our confidence on one game, we’re confident in what we do and we believe in it.
“We want to give the best account of ourselves every time we show up, that’s what is asked of us.
“We believe because of what we’ve been building and what we’ve been doing every day. We had sensational support against Real Madrid. It wasn’t to be, but we’ve just got to move forward. That’s kind of what they do, don’t they? They win Champions Leagues like that.”
ON THE RUN…Joe Hart displays his skills as a sweeper keeper.
Hart, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Credit to them, they are an exceptional, world-class team, but we’re just trying to stay in our lane and keep on running hard.
“We do believe in what we do. We’ve got a superb manager, we’re all on the same team and we are ready to go, we are ready to push.
“Going away to places like Ross County, Kilmarnock, that’s what gives me fire. This club is a special club when it comes to the support, so it doesn’t need occasions like Real Madrid for you to feel like you need to give back.
“I feel like as soon as I put this shirt on, I’m in a pretty special place.
“We will work hard, we will have our heads down and we will see where it takes us.”