JOE HART was delighted to finally get his first Champions League victory with Celtic and retains hope it will not be his last.

The former England and Manchester City goalkeeper has come in for some criticism for his performances early in the competition this season, after a costly blunder in the section’s opener in Rotterdam allowed Calvin Stengs to break the deadlock for Feyenoord with a speculative free-kick from distance.

The Herald: Joe Hart is beaten by Calvin Stengs' free-kick for Feyenoord in RotterdamJoe Hart is beaten by Calvin Stengs' free-kick for Feyenoord in Rotterdam (Image: Getty)READ MORE: McGregor reveals Celtic players' chat ahead of Feyenoord clash

But as Brendan Rodgers’ side ended a six-year wait for a win in the competition with a 2-1 victory over the Group E top seeds, Hart made a string of important saves to thwart the Dutch outfit as they chased an equaliser.

There was a sense of déjà vu threatening to set in for the veteran shot-stopper after seeing his side lose leads at home against Atletico Madrid and Lazio which ultimately sealed their fate as bottom markers in their section, but he was delighted to see the players in front of him hold firm for a morale-boosting win.

“Yeah, really nice,” Hart said about the 2-1 victory. “It’s a shame it’s not in a circumstance where we progress but you live in the moment and you play the battles that are in front of you. That was our challenge and we took it on. It was important for the future but also for the present, especially to have had a few heartbreaks late in the competition in the last couple of years to be the ones breaking a few hearts was nice.”

When asked If he was worried they might concede another late goal, Hart replied: “No [while nodding yes]. You can’t help [thinking that]. I’ve got a defensive mindset and did feel, ‘Oh God, let’s see’, so it was nice come the end to have the shoe on the other foot.”

The Herald: Joe Hart thwarts Lutsharel GeertruidaJoe Hart thwarts Lutsharel Geertruida (Image: Getty)READ MORE: Brendan Rodgers will lead Celtic to Champions League progress

With question marks hanging over the 36-year-old’s long-term future as Celtic No.1, Hart insists his focus is simply on this afternoon’s cinch Premiership match against Hearts as the Scottish champions look to bounce back from the defeat to Kilmarnock last weekend which blew the title race wide open.

And Hart is confident that so long as he continues to produce performances like the one against the Dutch champions in midweek, he will have a place in his manager’s plans.

“You don’t know [if it will be your last game in the Champions League] so you have to live in the moment,” he said. “It was really important to win so we can enjoy it and feel good. But the nature of the beast is we have to be ready to rumble on Saturday. 

“If I can’t cut it, I’m not here. It’s as simple as that. I was pleased to play a role that helps the team, but I try to do that every day, every moment that I can.”

“We’ve got to use the bounce we get from this. The manager alluded to it post-Kilmarnock but we came away from what makes us a good team a little bit in the second half in the conditions. We made it a little bit into a physical game and we came off second best, simple as that. Against Feyenoord we stuck to what makes us good and what makes us tick. It was disappointing as a group. Fair play to Kilmarnock for being good at what they do but we have to stick to what we’re good at as when we do we can get results.”

One man who perhaps gave Hart more reason to believe Celtic could cling on to their slender lead against Feyenoord on Wednesday night was centre-half Liam Scales. The Irishman has been a revelation at the heart of the Parkhead side’s defence this season after returning from a loan spell with Aberdeen.

And Hart pointed to his defensive partner’s attitude during his spell at Pittodrie as key to seizing his opportunity to claim his place in Celtic’s starting XI.

The Herald: Liam Scales tackles Igor PaixaoLiam Scales tackles Igor Paixao (Image: Getty)READ MORE: Scales delighted with Celtic Champions League honour after exit links

“He’s been excellent. Football’s mad, isn’t it?” Hart said. “Look at him. It’s about moments, you have to take your moments. I’ve lived this career for a long time now and not everywhere I’ve got has been down to me always being a stand-out. It’s just about being in the right place at the right time, and having the right attitude and commitment.

“Liam was excellent last year on loan at Aberdeen and it was no secret that he was looking to do that again as he’d done well. They really wanted him but his moment came here and he’s stepped up and done really well. He’s hung in there. You’ve got to. There are so many good players out there so once you’ve got a foothold you can’t let anyone take that from you. He put his body on the line for us again and that epitomised his performance.”