Mowbray confident despite opening defeat

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Manager Tony Mowbray doubts the significance of Celtic's Europa League defeat at Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Thursday night's Group C opener looked to be going the Parkhead side's way when Georgios Samaras fired them into a deserved half-time lead. But with 15 minutes remaining, Hapoel playmaker Nemanja Vucicevic grabbed the equaliser to set up a rousing finale and two minutes from time, substitute Maaran Lala knocked in the winner for the hosts.

"Let's not get carried away," the Hoops boss cautioned. "It will take a few games before the group starts to take shape."

Rapid Vienna pulled off a shock 3-0 win over Bundesliga leaders Hamburg in the section's other fixture, but Mowbray insists it is far too early in the competition to be drawing conclusions.

"We have two home games on the bounce - and if we win them then we will be in a good position for the next one in the group," added Mowbray. "Then it will be complicated for somebody else - so let's wait and see."

Mowbray saw enough from Celtic to retain faith in their ability at this level.

"We will go into both of those games with confidence, as we did this time," he confirmed. "All teams away from home in Europe try and make themselves hard to beat - and for 75 minutes, we did just that and got our noses in front. But ultimately we lost 2-1 and we have to take it on the chin and get ready for the league game on Sunday."

Celtic were given the day off after a gruelling flight through the night from Tel Aviv, before preparing for Sunday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League match at home to Hearts.

Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo insists he has not been surprised how quickly Craig Thomson has adapted to first-team football. Injuries forced Laszlo to blood the 18-year-old at right-back in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League play-off clash with Dinamo Zagreb last month - but he has impressed enough to remain an ever-present since.

"I'm not surprised by Craig Thomson and how he has fitted into the team," Laszlo told Hearts News. "He has done well in games. But we also have Jason Thomson and Eggert Jonsson, so we have three very capable young players. There will be good competition for places when Eggert is fit again."

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