Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 4-5): Hoops qualify for Champions League group stage



Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by Skysports.com

Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 4-5): Hoops qualify for Champions League group stage
Celtic captain Scott Brown celebrates at full time after progressing to the group stages of the Champions League

Celtic lost 2-0 to Hapoel Be'er Sheva in the second leg of their Champions League play-off, but still scraped into the group stage with a 5-4 aggregate win on Tuesday night.

The visitors were made to sweat for their place in the hat for Thursday's draw after going behind to Ben Sahar's first-half header, just seconds after the former Chelsea forward had come on as a substitute.

Celtic's nerves were really tested, though, when Ovidiu Hoban doubled the home side's lead just after half-time, meaning Hapoel Be'er Sheva needed just one more goal to win the tie on away goals.

The Scottish champions - back in the group stage of Europe's top club competition for the first time in three years - held on but they were grateful to goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who was badly at fault for Hapoel's second goal, for keeping out Maharan Radi's penalty on the quarter-hour mark.

Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 4-5): Hoops qualify for Champions League group stage
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers shows his relief at full time

Centre-back Mikael Lustig, who missed Saturday's victory at St Johnstone with an ankle injury sustained in the first leg against Hapoel, returned to the visitors' defence but winger Patrick Roberts - back after a three-week absence with a hamstring problem - was only fit enough for a place on the bench.

However, if Celtic's pre-match aim was to keep the crowd at the Turner Stadium quiet in the opening exchanges, then they failed after conceding a penalty just 15 minutes in.

Ofir Davidzade went on a driving run towards the edge of the box that was only ended by Saidy Janko's poorly timed tackle, with referee Bas Nijhuis, after a slight hesitation, pointing to the spot.

Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 4-5): Hoops qualify for Champions League group stage
Celtic goalkeeper Gordon saves Hapoel's Maharan Radi's penalty

Replays appeared to show the challenge to be fractionally outside of the box, although that did not matter when Radi struck his shot too close to Gordon's right, with the Scotland international standing firm to beat the ball to safety.

However, the visitors' relief was short lived as Hapoel went in front after 21 minutes when Sahar rose powerfully near the penalty spot to headed home Radi's right-wing corner, despite the attentions of both Gordon and Kieran Tierney on the goal-line.

Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 4-5): Hoops qualify for Champions League group stage
Celtic's Scott Sinclair in action against Hapoel Be'er Sheva

Amazingly, it was Sahar's first touch of the ball, just 94 seconds after coming on for the concussed Lucielmo Palhano Soares.

Brendan Rodgers' team did well to go in at the break just one goal behind on the night, although that changed just three minutes into the second half after a calamitous error by Gordon.

The home side broke down their right flank, but there appeared to be little danger for Celtic when the cross eventually came into the six-yard box.

Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 4-5): Hoops qualify for Champions League group stage
Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon (left) and Saidy Janko after Hapoel Be'er Sheva score their second goal

However, after easily gathering the centre, Gordon then collided with right-back Janko, who endured a torrid game at the back, allowing the ball to squirm free for Hoban to tap into the empty net from close range.

Thereafter it was all hands to the pump for Celtic, with Rodgers making all three of his changes in the first 20 minutes of the second period as he tried to stem the tide of Hapoel attacks.

An away goal would have seen the visitors through and one of Rodgers' substitutes - Moussa Dembele - very nearly provided it on the hour-mark after a storming run and shot that was only inches away from finding the top right-hand corner of the net.

Hapoel Be'er Sheva 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 4-5): Hoops qualify for Champions League group stage
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths (left) and Kieran Tierney (right) celebrate at the final whsitle

But at the other end Hapoel continued to threaten, in particular Hoban whose acrobatic overhead kick at the far post was inches away from finding the back of the net with 22 minutes left on the clock.

However, Celtic somehow managed to hold on in the final quarter of the match to book their place in the lucrative Champions League proper in what is the club's 52nd season in Europe.



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