MATT O’RILEY admitted he was “happy” and “relieved” after playing his role in Celtic’s 4-1 win over Hearts at Parkhead yesterday which all but sealed the title.
The 21-year-old Englishman competed with Filipe Jota for the Man of the Match honour with a solid display all over the park.
But the midfielder, who was playing in the English third tier with MK Dons before his £1.5million switch to the Hoops after the turn of the year, looked to be out of luck in his finishing when he slammed a superb effort past the static Craig Gordon shortly after the turnaround.
PICK IT OUT…Matt O’Riley rifles Celtic’s third goal low past Craig Gordon with Liel Abada getting a close-up view.
It appeared O’Riley was about to claim the third goal to add to the first-half strikes from Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi when the ball whipped towards its destination, but it clattered off the inside of the keeper’s right-hand post and bounced to safety.
However, the stylish middle of the park performer was not to be denied and he conjured up a classy finish to claim the third with a neat low drive beyond the grasp of the former Celtic netminder.
Giorgos Giakoumakis added the fourth late on with an unstoppable drive that zipped into the rigging.
An overjoyed O’Riley, speaking to Celtic TV, said: “It was crazy, the atmosphere was bouncing and it was really great to be part of it and we played really well, so I’m happy.
HAPPY DAZE…Matt O’Riley is all smiles after his goalscoring performance. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
“We showed character and togetherness and on the first day I arrived in January I could see that already, the foundations were there and being part of that is special.
“Personally, I missed a couple of chances, so I was frustrated and I was relieved like everyone else when I scored.
“We will enjoy the moment, but it’s not officially done, so we will treat the next two games like every other one and then from there we will celebrate.”
Next up for O’Riley and Co is the trip to Tannadice to take on Dundee on Wednesday night and then the curtain comes down on an extraordinary campaign at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon when Motherwell provide the opposition.