Hapoel Be’er Sheva v Celtic: Rodgers can oversee return to big-time

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Celtic’s defeat against Gibraltan outfit Lincoln Red Imps all of a sudden seems a distant memory of this year’s Champions League, and nobody would have predicted after that embarrassing defeat that Brendan Rodgers’ men would be just 90 minutes away from a return to the group stages of the biggest competition in European football.

But the Bhoys haven’t looked back since that night, sailing through to the final qualifying stage, scoring an incredible 11 goals in four games en route to this point.

And when Celtic touch down in Israel for their second leg against Hapoel Be’er Sheva, they’ll do so with a hefty 5-2 advantage over their opponents, courtesy of goals last week from Tom Rogic, Leigh Griffiths (2), Moussa Dembele and Scott Brown.

So can Celtic sit back and see this game out?

Unfortunately, Be’er Sheva won’t make it as easy as that for Brendan Rodgers’ side. And although their 3-goal margin is a huge advantage, last year’s Israeli first division champions have already proved they are capable of scoring a goal or two against the Hoops.

And they’ll have the backing of more than 15 000 fans in a ground where they haven’t lost a league or European fixture for nearly a year.

But Celtic can put the game beyond doubt with an early goal, something which they managed to do in this fixture last week as Rogic opened the scoring at Celtic Park in front of over 52 000 fans.

A goal in Israel would leave their opponents needing to score four to progress to the group stages, and although Celtic have a tendency of late to concede – it’s unlikely they’d ship four in such a crucial game.

In fact, they’ve not conceded such an amount in a competitive match since December 2014.

It’s 13/10 for the home team to win this one in 90 minutes and 5/2 for the draw, while Celtic are 15/8 to progress in style with an away victory.

Tom Rogic managed to open the scoring last time out and he’s 9/1 to so so again.

Our top tips:

Celtic to score first @ 11/10

Moussa Dembele to score any time @ 5/2

Both teams to score and Celtic to win @ 15/4

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Apati

Having graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Creative Writing with English, Alex joined the News team following a three year stint working for Ladbrokes behind the counter. When he's not watching darts, he's throwing them. Failing that you'll find him YouTubeing Thierry Henry's greatest Arsenal goals.