Brendan Rodgers has insisted Celtic still face a big task to qualify for the Champions League despite the 5-2 win over Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
The Champions League qualifying tie looked dead and buried in the Hoops’ favour by the interval at Parkhead after striker Leigh Griffiths scored with a header before rattling home a wonderful free-kick to add to Tom Rogic’s opener against the stunned Israeli champions.
Two goals in two minutes after the break from Brazilian striker Lucio Maranhao and Hapoel captain Maor Melikson, however, had the visitors back in the game and confident of more rewards.
But Celtic steadied and rallied, with substitute Moussa Dembele giving the home side some breathing space when he made it 4-2 from a Griffiths corner.
Skipper Scott Brown grabbed a fifth with four minutes remaining to put the Scottish champions in a powerful position ahead of the return game at the Turner Stadium next Tuesday.
Hoops manager Rodgers was pleased to have established a commanding advantage but is adamant there is plenty still to do before a place in the group stages – and the reported £20million windfall that comes with it – is secured.
“For us, we are not getting carried away,” he said. “There is still a massive job to do out there.
“We showed that when the space is reduced we can score goals and if they have to come and attack, then there is going to be more space for us to play on the counter.
“There is a three-goal advantage but our mentality will be that it’s goalless and we just have to get the job done next week.”
Hapoel boss Barak Bakhar was complimentary about the atmosphere at Celtic Park, and Rodgers praised the Hoops fans for their backing.
He said: “I said before about the supporters being patient and allowing the players to play, especially in difficult moments in games and I have to say a massive thank you because I think they took a stride forward in terms of understanding how we want to work.
“Before this, at 3-2, it might have been an edgy game for us but they stayed calm and roared the team on and I thought they were absolutely incredible.”