LETHAL leigh Griffiths gatecrashed SD Eibar’s 75th anniversary party when he fired in a superb hat-trick in an excellent work-out for Ronny Deila’s side.
There was a real cutting edge to the friendly as Celtic prepared for Wednesday’s Champions League second leg qualifier against Stjarnan in Iceland.
Skipper Scott Brown played the entire 90 minutes and was booked in a fiesty affair. Virgil van Dijk also started and completed the encounter.
Griffiths kicked off in a wide left attacking role with Nadir Ciftci again leading the line. However, the Turkish striker was replaced by Anthony Stokes at the interval and Griffiths became the main man.
It was goalless at the interval, but only after the Hoops’ new keeper Logan Bailly had saved a penalty-kick from Dani Nieto.
Referee Leo Garrido was swift to point to the spot when the ball cannoned off Dedryck Boyata’s arm after a shot from only two yards by Nieto. It looked harsh, but Bailly came up with the perfect response as he dived full length to his right to push away Nieto’s attempt.
Boyata then saved the keeper’s blushes after he had he strayed too far from his line and Nieto lobbed the ball towards the empty net. The former Manchester City defender raced back to clear off the line.
Earlier, Ciftci should have given Celtic the lead in the sixth minute when he was picked out by a swinging right-wing cross from Griffiths.
The £1.3million buy from Dundee United was totally unamrked smack in front of goal, but tamely headed into the arms of the grateful Xabi Irureta.
Nir Bitton was flattened by a dangerous mid-air challenge from Eddy Silverstre and it was clear that this was not going to be a kickabout friendly at the Ipurua stadium.
Efe Ambrose was one of three changes at half-time as he replaced Boyata and the Nigerian opened the scoring in the 50th minute when he sneaked in at the near post to get his head to a Scott Brown free-kick and power an effort past substitute keeper Jose Irrasti from six yards.
Ten minutes later Griffiths was hauled to the ground by Irrasti and this time the match official awarded the Hoops a stonewall spot-kick.
Griffiths, after his miss against Stjarnan on Wednesday, blazed his effort ball high to the keeper’s left, the ball zipping into the net off the inside of the upright.
However, it was the Spaniards’ turn to get another spot-kick in the in the 66th minute when the ref adjudged that Emilio Izaguirre had handled a shot from Ruben Garcia.
Again, it looked harsh with very little the Honduran could do to get out of the way.
This time Bailly had no chance as Mikkel Arrunbarrenna blasted the ball down the middle as the Belgian shotstopper took off for his left.
Griffiths restored Celtic’s two-goal advantage 15 minutes from time when he collected the ball on the right, cut inside and sent a devastating shot of power and precision low past Irrasti at his near post.
A minute from time, the lively hitman completed a terrific threesome after being sent clear by a magnificent 70-yard pass from Van Dijk that shredded the Spaniards’ defence.
The striker controlled the ball in an instant, the keeper saved the initial effort, but Griffiths followed up to tuck the ball away from a tight angle.
All in, a good night’s work for Deila’s men who can go to Iceland with a lot of confidence after a good display against the top-flight Spanish outfit.
CELTIC TEAM: Bailly; Fisher (sub: Janko 61), Boyata (sub: Ambrose 46), Van Dijk, Mulgrew (sub: Izaguirre 46); Brown, Bitton (sub: Rogic 61); Forrest (sub: Tierney 61), Armstrong (sub: Lindsay 61), Griffiths; Ciftci (sub: Stokes 46).