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 ‘DEMBELE’S SPOT ON,’ GRIFFITHS

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LEIGH GRIFFITHS has revealed he is happy to pass over the penalty-kick duties to Euro hero Moussa Dembele.

Last season’s 40-goal man scored Celtic’s breakthrough effort against Astana from the spot, but took a backseat when the Hoops were awarded another in stoppage time with the tie balanced at 2-2.

The 52,000 fans were puzzled when substitute Dembele, who hadn’t scored since his summer move from Fulham, put the ball on the spot before firing Brendan Rodgers’ side into today’s Champions League play-off draw.

Griffiths, who missed four penalties in the last campaign, admitted: “I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous when the ref awarded us the first spot-kick.

“Broonie came up to me and told me not to change my mind, so I picked a spot and placed the ball.

“Then I hit it to that favourite right-hand side of mine and, naturally, I was delighted to see the ball fly into the net.

“When we got the second award, the one person I wanted to take that kick was Moussa.

“You watch him in training and he is so cool with his attempts. So, there was no doubt about who was going to take that one.

“When he is on the pitch, he takes the penalties, that’s all there is to it.

“When we got the decision, I was the first to run to him to give him the ball.

“It was getting to the point I couldn’t bear to look because it was a long time between the decision and the kick being taken.

“The Astana players were complaining to the ref about what they thought was a soft award.

“For sure, the only man to take that penalty was Moussa and, obviously, it was great for him to score and I hope he will go on a run now.”

Griffiths added: “Naturally, we are all delighted to get through. It was a comfortable first-half and then when we got the penalty in stoppage time, it settled everyone’s nerves.

“To be honest, Astana didn’t really have much and then we gave away a soft goal to let them back into it.

“But we kept going right until the end and that’s what the gaffer wants from us. It proved that if you never give up, there’s a chance of something happening.

“We knew we were going to get one more chance, regardless of how it came about.

“And so it proved when we got the penalty and Moussa tucked it away.

“Going forward, we always looked a threat and we knew all about their counter-attacking and they had a bit of pace in their team.

“Big Kolo came on in the second-half, too, and did exceptionally well.

“Now we’re looking forward to the draw and we have got to be confident of beating anyone at Parkhead with our fans behind us.”

* Leigh Griffiths was talking to Celtic TV. 

 
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