BRENDAN RODGERS is delighted his Celtic team showed guts and courage in their pulverising 5-2 win in the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Hapoel Be’er Sheva at Parkhead last night.
The champions were cruising with a three-goal advantage at the interval after Leigh Griffiths powered in a header and then flighted in a perfect free-kick to add to Tom Rogic’s opener.
However, two strikes in three minutes after the break from Brazilian striker Lucio Maranhao and captain Maor Melikson put the Israelis back into the contest.
But the Hoops rallied and a header from substitute Moussa Dembele and an unstoppable drive from skipper Scott Brown restored the home side’s three-goal lead before the second leg at the Turner stadium on uesday night.
Rodgers said: “It is a brilliant result for us. You would obviously prefer 3-0, but 5-2 really shows the level that the team played at in a European game where there is everything riding on it.
“We were excellent in the first-half, we pressed them aggressively, created opportunities, scored three and maybe could have had more.
“We started the second-half well, I was pleased, then we had a spell when we defended very poorly for 10 to 12 minutes and conceded two poor goals.
“We didn’t reduce the space, there was a little bit of inexperience and it goes to 3-2 quickly and then there is a question asked of you.
“Before the game I mentioned about periods when you come under pressure and it is having those checkpoints in place to stay calm, get control of the game and look to shift the momentum.
“At 3-2, to then go and win the game 5-2, really shows that mental strength of the players as well as the quality.