MATT O’RILEY was as surprised as everyone else as his ferocious right-foot drive from just outside the box flew high past despairing keeper Dimitar Mitov for Celtic’s second goal in their 3-1 comeback win over St Johnstone in Perth.
The elegant midfielder has added goals to his vast repertoire of skills and the stunning strike against Craig Levein’s side was his seventh of the season.
At this stage last term, O’Riley hadn’t registered a solitary strike and had to wait until the 5-1 Scottish Cup victory over St Mirren at Parkhead on February 11 to get off the mark.
Only three goals were added to the total, including a double in the 4-1 success over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on April 16.
TONGUE-TIED…Matt O’Riley races away in surprise after his stunning strike against St Johnstone with Alistair Johnston about to add his congratulations.
O’Riley will go into tomorrow night’s home match against Hibs just one short of the tally in all competitions of the Hoops’ most prolific hitman Kyogo Furuhashi.
The 23-year-old Denmark international playmaker rates the wonder strike against the Perth club as one of his best and puts it all down to a return to an old exercise routine.
O’Riley admitted: “I surprised myself a bit with it. My first thought after it went in was how stable I felt in my body. And I think that is a result of the pilates I have been doing. l. So it’s nice to see these things coming together.
“It’s the best goal I have ever scored with my right foot.
“Recently, I have been practising it a lot with my right foot, it’s made me more stable and more effective, so if I can add that to my game as well it will be very helpful.
“I started it when I was younger at Fulham, because I had a few back problems, I’ve returned to it in the last year or so and I find it very beneficial.”
SMILES BETTER…a delighted Matt O’Riley after his magnificent seventh strike of the season.
O’Riley, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I do it outside of the club, as well. I do my own stuff here at the club and just try and keep on top of everything.
“It helps with all sorts, it helps with injury prevention, it helps with just general stability on the pitch if you want to protect the ball, you’re more balanced and more robust.
“I think it’s important if you want to have a long career – and I’m someone who wants to play for a long time.
“I didn’t realise how good all the link-up play before it was until I watched it back, I don’t think you ever realise at the time, but upon further reflection it was nice.”
Good to know O’Riley is as much a master of the understatement as he is passing the ball or thundering long-range drive into the opposition’s net.