GIORGOS GIAKOUMAKIS earned praise from beaming boss Ange Postecoglou after Celtic’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle last night.
The Greek striker, who arrived in a £2.5million summer switch after completing last season as the Eredivisie’s top scorer with 26 strikes for minnows VVV-Venlo, claimed what proved to be the winner with a cheeky back-flick against former Hoops keeper Craig Gordon.
It was Giakoumakis’ second goal in successive games after his opener in the Scottish Cup roughhouse at Alloa on Saturday – and his manager was delighted with the player who is reaping the dividends for hard work away from the spotlight.
PICK IT OUT…Giorgos Giakoumakis leaves Craig Gordon and John Souttar grounded after flicking in the second goal. Craig Halkett gets a close-up view of what proved to be the winner at Tynecastle.
Reo Hatate fired the visitors into the lead with a whizzbang long-range drive that hurtled past Gordon, but there was a scare when Liam Boyce, from an offside position, pulled one back in the 62nd minute before he walloped a penalty-kick off the woodwork 10 minutes later.
When the smoke of battle cleared, the Hoops were travelling home with three points in the bag and their boss, who had lost his first-ever Premiership encounter at the same venue, was clearly delighted.
Postecoglou said: “That’s what I mean about character and mentality. Giorgos Giakoumakis is another one who had a tough first half of the year for sure.
“He worked hard to get himself fit during the little break we had. We gave the guys a few days off, but he kept going along with James Forrest and Chris Jullien to be ready and I thought he was great.
“He scored not just a great goal, but worked awfully hard and he had to because unfortunately at the moment we don’t have somebody to give him a bit of a breather towards the end of the game.
CAPITAL PERFORMANCE…Giorgos Giakoumakis celebrates his second goal in successive games.
“He is showing people why I brought him. He has a presence about him and in the box he can score goals. That’s his strength.
“It’s a testament to his character. I said after he missed the penalty against Livingston that that’s the burden you carry being the No.9 here at Celtic.”
The Greek-Australian, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “You are expected to be here for the big moments and score goals and that’s what he wants.
“He didn’t shy away after that happened, worked hard to get himself fit and be ready.
“I’m very proud of the players, we had a bit of a challenge, it’s not an easy place.
“It’s probably the one thing that is probably a little bit underestimated in this team, they are just a really resilient group of players.
HAIL THE HERO…Giorgos Giakoumakis acknowledges the acclaim of the Celtic fans.
“There were plenty of reasons for them to have excuses, but I thought with the changes we had to make our football was still great.
“We could have finished the game off earlier, we had some good chances, but once they got the goal obviously the crowd got behind them.
“I still thought that we handled it really well.
“If you chart the course of this team from the first time we were here, we haven’t really had a smooth run, to be honest, but I don’t mind because it builds resilience and reveals character.”
Celtic go again at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon when they host Dundee United who snatched a 1-1 draw in Glasgow earlier in the campaign.