Celtic fans were in confusion land at 8.30 this evening when they found themselves with a 3 goal cushion and looking unbeatable with some of the best European 45 mins Celtic Park has seeing in decades.
It felt like Celtic had already achieved Champions League football at half time. Our website was ready to give away a few Leigh Griffiths T-Shirts on our social media outlets before Hapoel stuck one past Craig Gordon early in the second half. Your subconscious pops up and says I told you so. No big deal, we probably could have had five in the first half and we got denied a stone wall penalty. Within another five minutes Hapoel had scored another. The score was 3-2 and all of a sudden your sub-conscious becomes your conscious and reminds you that a 3-0 lead is not the Celtic way in European football.
This realisation drags you down and the noise levels down at Paradise to a familiar place of prayer, crossed fingers and a few promises that if we can get another goal you’ll donate some organs. You’re watching opposition fans celebrating and wondering, why? They don’t deserve this. Somewhere in the pit of your stomach a voice says “not again”.
However Celtic managed to slow the pace down again and grew back into the game. Israeli International Nir Bitton scored a powerful header from a corner against the Israeli league champions. Scott Brown equalling the famous Billy McNeil with European appearances for Celtic helped Celtic regain their three-goal lead when he volleyed home from the penalty spot after his first effort was blocked.
If tonights performance teaches Celtic fans anything, its that this tie is far from over.
Celtic: Gordon; Lustig, Toure, O’Connell, Tierney; Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Rogic (69), Sinclair; Griffiths.
Substitutes: Fasan; Bitton, Dembele (69), Christie, Janko, Sviatchenko, Henderson.
Hapoel: Goresh; Biton, Hoban, Taha, Tzedek; Davidadze, Melikson, Radi, Ogu; Nwakaeme, Maranhao (68).
Substitutes: Haimov; Turjeman, Buzaglo, Sahar (68), Broun, Ohayon, Shabtai.