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‘WE’LL FINISH OFF ASTANA,’ GRIFFITHS

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LEIGH GRIFFITHS, Celtic’s second-half saviour in Kazakhstan, believes the Hoops will finish the job atCeltic Park next Wednesday.

 

Last season’s 40-goal marksman struck the late goal that gave Brendan Rodgers’ side a 1-1 stalemate in the first leg of their Champions League encounter against Astana in front of 25,000 frenzied home fans.

Griffiths said: “Coming away from home, we would have taken a 1-1 draw. We knew it was going to be a hostile atmosphere with a lot of noise and that they would come at us. But, apart from the goal we conceded, they didn’t create a lot of chances.

“Of course, we fancy our chances. The crowd at home will create a lot more noise and we’ll be back on grass, which will be a bonus for us and maybe not for them. They will also have to adjust to the time difference over in Scotland.

“With the five-hour time difference, it’ll be like playing at two o’clock in the morning for them and that can help us. Back being on grass and moving it quickly, we can cause them problems.

“Had we been better on a couple of occasions with the final pass, we could have scored more. The manager said from the first day he came in that he was going to make us more compact and hard to beat. If we keep playing the way we did in the second-half that will be the case. Like I said, they didn’t create much clear-cut opportunities, but we had a threat.”

The livewire frontman added: “I loved scoring the goal. You can’t go sprinting about, but you also need to enjoy moments like that. To score an away goal was massive and, hopefully, we can go and finish the job in the second leg.

“We knew there was going to be pressure with the likes of corners and throw-ins, but we knew if we could keep it tight in the second-half, we’d get a chance. Fortunately for me, the ball fell at my feet and I’ve managed to put it away.

“I’m always confident of scoring goals at any level. It’s just about getting the ball in the right places at the right times. My decision-making could be better on occasions, but, thankfully, I’ve scored an important away goal here and we’ll look to go back to Celtic Park and finish the job.”

The match at the Astana Arena was marred by bad tempered scenes as players clashed during injury-time and skipper Scott Brown was booked for his involvement in the exchanges. However, Griffiths is confident there will no lingering resentment between the teams when they meet in Glasgow.

He added: “One of their players got frustrated and volleyed the ball at Kieran Tierney, so there was a bit of arguing about that, They were frustrated at losing a goal, but two minutes later we shook hands and forgot about it.

“Did I get elbowed? There was a bit of handbags and one of their man went down. Both of us could have been booked, to be honest. The ref could have let it go, but I was the one who got booked.

“However, I managed to silence the crowd a few minutes later, so it worked out fine.”


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