CELTIC’S legendary goalkeeper Pat Bonner believes if his former club can hold their nerve they will make the European breakthrough in the crucial early months of the season.
The Republic of Ireland icon was impressed as Neil Lennon’s men hammered Estonia’s Nomme Kaluj 5-0 in the first leg of their Champions League second round qualifier with goals from Ryan Christie (2), Kristoffer Ajer, Leigh Griffiths and Callum McGregor at Parkhead last night.
Tuesday’s return tie should be a formality for Scotland’s title kings with Cluj or Maccabi Tel Aviv waiting for them at the third hurdle with the Romanians 1-0 ahead of the Israelis after their opening tie.
Bonner, speaking to BBC Sportsound, fired a warning, though, when he said: “The next two rounds are critical.
“It’s almost about the mentality, not ability, keeping their heads and not letting the pressure get to them.
“We’ve seen it before in Europe when we expect a performance and then they get nervy. If Neil Lennon can deal with that, I think they are in a good position.”
Former centre-half John Hughes, the ex-Hibs, Caley Thistle and Falkirk boss, also talked to the Beeb and paid a massive tribute to Christie who produced a midfield masterclass against the bewildered Estonians.
He added: “I felt Ryan Christie was Man of the Match, as he was last week (against FK Sarajevo).
“He’s making up for lost time after his horrendous injury. He won Brendan Rodgers over last year and he has certainly won Neil Lennon over.
“Ryan is one of the first names on the team-sheet now. He must be on the radar of big English Premier League clubs with these kind of displays.”
After the recent weeks of Kieran Tierney transfer speculation with Arsenal, CQN believes the Celtic fans have had quite enough of their players being linked with clubs across the border.