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Celtic are holding all the aces, insists Craig Gordon

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 19/08/2016

Craig Gordon is satisfied with the advantage Celtic takes into the second leg of their Champions League play-off against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
Craig Gordon is satisfied with the advantage Celtic takes into the second leg of their Champions League play-off against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Craig Gordon is satisfied with the advantage Celtic will take to Israel next week for the second leg of their Champions League play-off against Hapoel Be'er Sheva.

Brendan Rodgers' men are on course to qualify for the group stages for the first time in three years after a drama-filled 5-2 win at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

The Bhoys were 3-0 ahead at the break after a Leigh Griffiths double followed Tom Rogic's opener. The tie changed complexion when the visitors scored two goals in two minutes after the break through Brazilian striker Lucio Maranhao and skipper Maor Melikson.

However, in the pulsating latter stages, substitute Moussa Dembele gave Celtic some breathing space when he made it 4-2 and skipper Scott Brown grabbed a fifth in the 86th minute to make the trip to the Turner Stadium next Tuesday night, where a group stage prize of £20m-plus is at stake, surely less stressful.

The Celtic goalkeeper is certainly confident that the three-goal lead will be enough.

"It's a good result," said Gordon. "If we'd been asked beforehand we would have taken that so we'll go over there with a good lead. It's not finished yet but we've certainly put ourselves in a good position.

"They've shown their qualities as well and scored two goals away from home so we have to respect that they'll be good on their own patch and go over there and do a good defensive job.

"We kept creating chances and we have great forward players always capable of scoring goals."

Gordon believes the sense of self-belief instilled in the players by former Liverpool boss Rodgers since he took over from Ronny Deila has been crucial, especially in the European journey which has so far taken the Scottish champions past Gibraltarian part-timers Lincoln Red Imps and FC Astana of Kazakhstan.

The Scotland international said: "The manager's come in and done very well. He's got everybody believing in one another and every time we've been asked a question we've come up with an answer."

Gordon knows he will soon have to respond to the challenge of new signing Dorus de Vries.

The 35-year-old Dutchman joined the Scottish champions from Nottingham Forest on a two-year deal last weekend, although is he is recovering from an ankle injury. Gordon has been first choice over the past two seasons ahead of Leo Fasan and Logan Bailly and he appeared relaxed at the added competition.

He said: "You need three top-quality goalkeepers when you go and try to get into the Champions League so we'll see what happens."

Belfast Telegraph

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