Saturday 21 October 2017

Rogic: We can score against anyone

Celtic's Scott Sinclair. Photo: PA
Celtic's Scott Sinclair. Photo: PA

Roddy Forsyth

Celtic flew to Israel yesterday ahead of tomorrow's Champions League play-off return against Hapoel Beer Sheva confident that they can secure a place in the group stages by scoring at least once in the Turner Stadium.

That prediction was made by Australian midfielder Tom Rogic after Saturday's 4-2 victory over St Johnstone in Perth.

Celtic surged into a 3-0 lead with goals from Leigh Griffiths, Scott Sinclair and James Forrest but dozed off to concede twice, first from a Danny Swanson penalty, needlessly given away by Liam Henderson, and then Steven MacLean.

Hapoel had similarly reduced a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 last Wednesday, but in both cases Celtic responded positively, finishing 5-2 against the Israeli champions and adding another goal against St Johnstone from Ryan Christie in injury-time in Perth.

While the evidence of the play-off first leg is that Celtic can expect a tough evening if Hapoel score first in their Negev Desert home, Rodgers' players do offer a scoring threat.

"We believe in ourselves. No matter who the opponent is, we fancy ourselves to score," said Rogic. "Tuesday is no different. We have a lot of pace in the team, in particular with Scott Sinclair and James Forrest.

"We played well for the most part and were comfortable. We got a bit sloppy towards the end and possibly some of the effects of Wednesday night were coming through, but it shouldn't take away from the majority of the performance.

"In particular, some of the football in the first half was very exciting and the team looked really good. Most times when we were breaking, we looked really dangerous and as if we were going to score. We had three in the first half and could have had a couple more.

"We were disappointed to let them back into it. It's something we need to fix. Once we fix these small errors, we will become even better.

"We got more goals and responded well in our last two games. I guess that shows the resilience and character of the team. As long as we do that, we will be fine."

Certainly, there was no argument from Tommy Wright or the St Johnstone contingent that Celtic had been the superior team.

"Celtic's movement against us was very good, they had more of the ball and we were disappointed with the way we kept turning it over," said Saints midfielder Murray Davidson.

Irish Independent

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