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Late double relieves Celtic after Beer-Sheva scare

Celtic 5-2 Hapoel Beer-Sheva
Lúcio Maranhão and Maor Melikson cut Celtic's lead to 3-2, only for Moussa Dembele and Scott Brown to extend their advantage in the last 18 minutes.

Highlights: Seven-goal thiller at Celtic Park
Highlights: Seven-goal thiller at Celtic Park
  • Celtic defeat Hapoel Beer-Sheva in dramatic game in Glasgow
  • Tom Rogic fires Scottish side ahead early, Leigh Griffiths adds two more before half-time
  • Griffiths nods in James Forrest cross and then curls in left-footed free-kick
  • Powerful strikes from Lúcio Maranhão and captain Maor Melikson give Beer-Sheva hope
  • Substitute Moussa Dembele and skipper Scott Brown increase Celtic's lead

Two early second-half strikes for Hapoel Beer-Sheva cancelled out Celtic's three-goal interval lead before Moussa Dembele and Scott Brown put the Hoops back in the driving seat for a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Tom Rogic's goal on nine minutes gave the home side the early lead they craved and the tie looked beyond the Israeli title holders when Leigh Griffiths netted twice in eight minutes before the interval to secure the Hoops a seemingly unassailable advantage.

However, Barak Bakhar's team roared back with two goals in three second-half minutes through Lúcio Maranhão and captain Maor Melikson to leave this play-off wide open.

Celtic were rattled but just as in the previous round against Astana, Dembele came off the bench to head in a corner, with Brown restoring the three-goal cushion five minutes from time, driving home at the second attempt.

Key player: Leigh Griffiths (Celtic)

Reporter's view: Alex O'Henley
The proverbial game of two halves from Celtic's point of view. In the first half they appeared confident, hungry and ruthless. Players who were previously struggling to find their best form – the likes of Brown and Forrest – were rejuvenated and when Griffiths got his second and Celtic's third, the Hoops seemed to have one foot in the group phase.

©Getty Images

Hapoel Beer-Sheva's double salvo should serve as a warning ahead of next week's return leg, although the late goals from Dembele and Brown placed the Scots in the box seat nonetheless.

Talking points
If Brendan Rodgers made a big call selecting Rogic instead of Dembele, the Australian international justified his manager's faith with the opening goal. Rodgers' new signings Kolo Touré and Scott Sinclair also added a new dimension: the Ivorian exuded belief and composure at the back, while Sinclair's pace on the left was a constant menace to the Beer-Sheva rearguard.

However, the Celtic boss will have been troubled by the ease with which the Israeli champions scored twice in quick succession early in the second period.

©Getty Images
©Getty Images
©Getty Images
©Getty Images