LEIGH GRIFFITHS blamed himself for not scoring a hat-trick in Celtic’s emphatic 3-0 Premiership victory over Hamilton Accies at storm-lashed New Douglas Park yesterday.
The comeback striker walloped in the Hoops’ second goal to add to Odsonne Edouard’s penalty-kick shortly after the break – but the 30-year-old Scotland international admitted he should have scored twice during a frustrating first-half.
Griffiths was denied early in the game when Accies keeper Kyle Gourlay dived to his right to push away a low drive.
And in the 19th minute, the lively frontman got on the end of a right-wing cross from Jeremie Frimpong, but his header thumped off the upright and bounced to safety.
Griffiths, speaking to Sky Sports, admitted: “We played well first-half and we were unlucky not to open the scoring.
“The first two chances I had, I definitely should have scored. The goalie kept my other one out, but the most important thing was the three points.
“Second-half, we came out all guns blazing and got the early goal that we needed. That settled us down a bit and we cruised it from there.”
Griffiths is hoping Neil Lennon teams him up again with Edouard when the champions welcome Dundee United to Parkhead on Wednesday afternoon to bring down the curtain on 2020 before it all kicks off again in the New Years with a visit to Ibrox to take on Steven Gerrard’s pacesetters who beat Hibs 1-0 yesterday with a strike from Ianis Hagi.
The 30-year-old frontman said: “We’ve not had that many opportunities so far and, hopefully, we can build on it again.
“Odsonne hasn’t been playing his football of late, but you saw how good he was. His link-up, his hold-up play and running off the ball was brilliant.
“Hopefully, that’s him turned a corner and we can get him all firing again. Let’s hope we can put a run together now.
“We’ve played well together the last two games and, hopefully, we’ll get the chance again on Wednesday to prove we deserve to be up there.
“I like to go in behind and he likes to come short to feet. It stretches defenders when they don’t know whether to stay with him or drop off, where he’ll get at people and get turned.
“I like to play on the shoulder and follow stuff in, so we complement each other well. With runners such as Ryan Christie, David Turnbull and Callum McGregor behind us, we’re an attacking side and we want to go and exploit that.”
Asked if he planned to stick with the partnership, Hoops boss Lennon answered: “Yeah, I’ve got two good strikers there.
“The link-up for the second goal was great.
“I felt everyone today looked more like themselves, There was a fluency to the movement and the running off the ball was all there for us. On a really awful day, they could have thrown the towel in, but they didn’t, they went the other way.
“They got what they deserved, it was a great performance and a great win.”
David Turnbull knocked in the third goal after a header from Edouard had rebounded from the keeper’s right-hand post into his tracks and the former Motherwell midfielder steered it in the empty net.
The win was the Parkhead men’s third successive victory in the league without rookie keeper Conor Hazard conceding a goal following the 2-0 wins over Kilmarnock and Ross County.