IT TOOK Matt O’Riley seven months to score his first goal of the season.
Now Celtic’s smooth midfield operator is aiming to make it two strikes in seven days when the champions take on Aberdeen at Parkhead on Saturday afternoon.
Coincidentally, O’Riley’s first-ever goal for the Hoops came against the Pittodrie outfit in the north east on February 9 last year – only 20 days after joining the club from English third-tier side MK Dons in a bargain £1.5million switch.
SMILES BETTER…Matt O’Riley celebrates his breakthrough strike against St Mirren at Parkhead.
The London-born Denmark Under-21 international swept in the fourth goal of the 5-1 Scottish Cup triumph over St Mirren in Glasgow on Saturday night after a collection of near-misses since the season kicked off with a 2-0 win over the Dons on July 31.
O’Riley, a 63rd-minute substitute for David Turnbull, was delighted to set up a quarter-final meeting with Hearts at Tynecastle next month – and PRAISED the Paisley side for their efforts at the weekend.
The 22-year-old ball-playing artist said: “They made it difficult for us, they really gave it a good go.
“Most teams just sit in the box and sit there for 90 minutes, but they gave it a go and I respect that. Luckily, we broke them down as the game went on.”
Daizen Maeda hit the opening goal before Reo Hatate notched a VAR-assisted penalty-kick 15 minutes from the end. That opened the way for the floodgates against 10-man Saints after Richard Taylor’s red card at the delayed spot-kick award.
GOAL-DEN MOMENT…Matt O’Riley is congratulated by Liel Abada and Alistair Johnston after his Scottish Cup strike.
Oh Hyeon-gyu claimed his debut strike for Ange Postecoglou’s men with No.3 – also the team’s 100th goal of the term – before O’Riley and Hatate, with a first-time cracker, joined in.
The gifted midfield man wasn’t so enraptured by the time spent making decision after VAR interventions and admitted the hold-ups broke up Celtic’s rhythm.
O’Riley, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “It is frustrating. It takes a really long time. I don’t know what the average time is, but it must be over two or three minutes each time.
“For us, it’s not ideal, especially the way we play and the momentum we have when we’re constantly attacking teams. It gives them a breather, as well.
“The way we’re playing, we’re trying to tire teams out, so it’s a bit frustrating in that sense, but at the same time everyone has to deal with it.”