LEIGH GRIFFITHS scored his first Celtic goal in seven months as he bulleted in an unstoppable 90th-minute breakthrough effort in the 2-0 win over St Johnstone at McDoarmid Park yesterday.
Inside two minutes, fellow-substitute Patryk Klimala stormed through to thump in the second to make certain three points would be heading back to Parkhead following a dour struggle in Perth.
Griffiths claimed an excellent hat-trick in the 5-0 triumph over St Mirren in Glasgow on March 7 before the curtain came down prematurely on the season due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Remarkably, that was his last competitive action for the nine-in-a-row champions. He incurred the wrath of Neil Lennon when he returned overweight for pre-season training following four months of cold storage. The boss ditched him from his first-team plans as he prepared for a monumental season for the club with the historic tenth successive title on the horizon.
The 30-year-old Scotland international went some way to making amends with his goal against the Perth outfit and he blamed himself for his non-appearances until his late and dramatic substitute appearance where he displayed his predatory penalty-box instincts with a flashing header from a Hatem Abd Elhamed right-wing cross
HERE WE GO…Hatem Abd Elhamed’s cross is in the air as Leigh Griffiths hovers in the box.
HEAD BHOY…Griffiths makes perect contact as the ball heads goalwards.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Griffiths turns away in delight as the ball nestles behind the helples Zander Clark.
Griffiths, speaking to the media, admitted: “The last competitive game I had was the St Mirren game and I wanted to continue that form, but it wasn’t to be.
“I let myself down, my club down, everybody down. Hopefully, I will do well in the next few games and start repaying them.
“It was a blow, but it was my own fault and I had to take it on the chin.
“When the team was away, I worked hard to make sure I was still in the plans when they came back.
“I did that and managed to force my way back into the squad and, unfortunately for me, I got injured just before the Hamilton game which wasn’t ideal. However, I have been working ever so hard to get back.”
The frontman who has netted over 100 goals for the Hoops continued: “I spoke to the gaffer at length many times and he always said as long as he is here I will be here.
“I just need to keep working on my fitness and make sure that when I am called upon that I make an impact.
“Of course, it has been a difficult time, but I have just been working away trying to get my fitness back up.
“It is unfortunate that Albian (Ajeti) got injured and gave me my chance to come back in, I took my chance and I now I need to build on it.”
Griffiths added: “Listen, it’s not just about me. It’s about the whole team getting three points on this occasion.
“Obviously, St Johnstone were going to make it stuffy and we just had to keep working away and trying to break them down.
“Fortunately for us, we got two in the last couple of minutes.”