Three key clashes to decide Hapoel Beer-Sheva v Celtic

Leigh Griffiths enjoyed a terrific first leg performance. Picture: SNS
Leigh Griffiths enjoyed a terrific first leg performance. Picture: SNS
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Here are the three most important battles that will decide Celtic’s second leg encounter with Israeli champions Hapoel Beer-Sheva.

EOGHAN O’CONNELL v BEN SAHAR

The Irishman uses the ball well, which fits in with Brendan Rodgers’ desire to play from the back. However, the 21-year-old also appears to lose concentration at times, as happened on his European debut in Kazakhstan last month, when he lost his man at a corner for Astana’s goal in the 1-1 draw.

Former Chelsea and Espanyol striker Sahar came off the bench at Parkhead last week but scored the opener in Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Hapoel Ra’anana in their first league fixture.

SCOTT BROWN v OVIDIU HOBAN

The Celtic captain’s performances have improved in recent weeks and he will feel his decision to end his international career will have been vindicated if he can lead his side into the Champions League proper for the first time in three years. Brown did not abandon his international ambitions for Europa League football.

Hoban will prove a worthy opponent. The 33-year-old played in the first leg and the Romanian, who played in all three of his country’s matches at Euro 2016, adds steel to the hosts’ starting XI.

LEIGH GRIFFITHS v SHIR TDEZEK

Griffiths has started where he left off at the end of last season in terms of goalscoring but five goals in as many European ties has proved he can step up to that level, already beating the four he notched last season.

His pace and movement gave the somewhat cumbersome Israel centre-half Tzedek all sorts of problems in the first leg and he can make life hell for him again in the Turner Stadium tonight.