Celtic 5-2 Hapoel Beer Sheva: Leigh Griffiths lauds side for not wilting

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Celtic's mental strength impresses boss Rodgers

Leigh Griffiths feared Celtic were heading for another Champions League play-off disappointment before they rallied to beat Hapoel Beer Sheva 5-2.

The Israeli side battled back from 3-0 down to trail 3-2 in the first leg in Glasgow, but two further goals put the Scottish champions in control.

At the same stage last season, Celtic lost a late goal in their 3-2 home win over Malmo before losing 2-0 in Sweden.

"I think last year, we would've crumbled," said striker Griffiths.

"They would've probably got an equaliser. I was thinking, 'it's going to happen again'.

"I'm sure the boys who were here last year were thinking that.

"But the manager [Brendan Rodgers] has instilled in us an attitude to keep going and it's made a massive difference.

Griffiths, who scored a thumping header and a sublime free-kick as well as setting up two more goals, said he would have "snapped your hand off" for a three-goal advantage beforehand.

"It was great for me to get two goals but I want to fire us into the group stages," he added. "Hopefully, I can get another couple of goals next week."

Leigh Griffiths scores
Leigh Griffiths scored a sublime free-kick to put Celtic 3-0 up

Celtic 'a different team' under Rodgers

Team-mate James Forrest agrees Rodgers has improved the side since replacing Ronny Deila in the summer.

"We're a different team," said the winger. "We showed that we could dig in and we've got a good result to take over there."

Defender Mikael Lustig, who was taken off injured in the second half, insists the Scottish Premiership champions will not sit back in next week's return leg in Beersheba.

"We're going to go there and try to win the game," he said. "We know that we perform the best when we are on the front foot."

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