EWAN HENDERSON admits it “was the best feeling in the world” to score his first goal for Celtic.
The Hoops midfielder, 21, who has been at the club for over four years and been loaned to Ross County and Dunfermline during that period, finally claimed his breakthrough strike in an incident-laden 3-2 Europa League Group G win over Real Betis last night.
Parkhead was hushed in the 71st minute when the team’s talisman and fans’ favourite Kyogo Furuhashi, a first-half substitute for the injured Albian Ajeti, limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
COME IN, No 52, YOUR TIME IS NOW…Ewan Henderson fires the ball past REal Betis keeper Rui Silva for his first-ever Celtic goal.
Ange Postecoglou sent on Henderson amid concerns over the Japanese frontman’s availability in the crucial run-in to the winter break with a Premier Sports League Cup Final against Hibs due at Hampden a week on Sunday.
Henderson, though, was concerned only on matters at hand and how he could contribute to the team’s cause.
He did that with virtually his first touch of the ball as he swept in a low right-wing cross from Mikey Johnston to make it 2-1 within a minute of his appearance.
The talented midfielder said: “I’m obviously really happy with the goal. I’ve been working hard behind the scenes, so it’s great to get my first goal for Celtic. It was the best feeling in the world. I was so happy.
COMING UP…Mikey Johnston prepares to fire over the cross for Ewan Henderson’s breakthrough strike.
“With Mikey Johnston setting me up it was a great moment for the youth academy as we came through together. I’ve wanted to get my first goal since I came in to the first team squad. I’m just delighted to get it.
“It’s the way we play football. We love attacking. Sometimes it opens you up defensively, but we are scoring so many goals.
“All the boys are loving the way we are playing. It’s been excellent since the manager came in.”
Henderson, speaking to BT Sport, added: “All of the boys who played are working so hard in training. The standard is so high when you go in, everyone expects to step up and do well.
“Everyone got pass marks tonight. They were fantastic.
KNEESY WHEN YOU KNOW HOW…Ewan Henderson slides on the ground after putting Celtic 2-1 ahead.
“It gives you a taste. When you come through the academy you dream of playing for the first team and, hopefully, there will be many more chances.
“It’s good to win the last Europa League. There are so many games coming up that every player has done their bit to try to get on the teamsheet.”
Henderson and his Celtic team-mates can now look forward to the European Conference League in 2022 after coming third in their section behind winners Bayer Leverkusen and the Spanish cracks.
They completed the group with three wins and three losses from six outings to finish on nine points, one adrift of Manuel Pellegrini’s La Liga outfit.