Douglas unmoved by Hedman threat

Martin O'Neill says Robert Douglas has answered his critics by keeping Celtic's Champions' League ambitions alive.

Douglas' days as No 1 goalkeeper looked set to be over following the arrival of Magnus Hedman, but on Wednesday night against FC Basel it was his brilliant double second-half saves from Murat Yakin with the score at 2-1 that has given Douglas side a good opportunity to return to the money-spinning group stages.

While O'Neill has refused to make an issue of the fight for the gloves, Douglas has responded to the pressure by failing to put a foot wrong. Unlike last season, such competition could prevent the momentary lapses in concentration and see him produce some of the displays he regularly produced in the Champions' League last season.

"Robert Douglas had a brilliant 10-minute spell when we were getting tired in the game," O'Neill said. "He kept us in it at that stage with two great saves which allowed us the opportunity to get another goal." Momo Sylla's late strike was unfair on the Swiss champions, but at 3-1 the Scottish Premier League leaders are expected to complete the task in a fortnight.

It was an amazing turn-around after Christian Gimenez had stunned the home crowd with a goal after just 90 seconds. Henrik Larsson's penalty minutes later squared the tie before Chris Sutton's back-heel gave the home side the advantage.

Celtic could even afford the Swede having his second spot-kick saved, but a man-of-the-match performance from his English strike partner had the manager purring.

"He was absolutely magnificent," O'Neill said. "He is a top-class centre forward. He lost a bit of confidence at Chelsea, but he has showed enough European class to prove he is a very decent player."

A goal in the return leg in Switzerland would probably mean Celtic joining the first group stage of the competition and O'Neill is confident. "We are definitely capable of scoring and creating chances over there," he said.

The Basel coach, Christian Gross, is refusing to give up hope, but admits his side's lack of experience proved decisive. The former Tottenham manager said: "We lost a little bit of control in midfield after the break. We always had a man over in the first half and always looked like scoring, but they troubled us with their crosses.

"But looking back, we had so many inexperienced players in our side for this kind of game, which cost us the result. We had a brilliant start, but if you can't concentrate for another four minutes then then you let them back in.

"But you can't forget that this was the club's biggest game for 22 years at this level so this performance was OK."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing