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Monday 11 December 2017

Leigh Griffiths: Our aim is to win treble this year

Celtic striker glad to repay Deila but knows final hurdle in way of Bhoys

Stokes and Griffiths
Stokes and Griffiths

Celtic strolled past Rangers with the minimum of fuss to book their place in the final of the Scottish League Cup against Dundee United.

After the unprecedented build up and hype it was a low key affair as first half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons ensured that the favourites prevailed.

Celtic keeper Craig Gordon didn't have a single save to make but fearing a hiding the new Rangers fans chanted 'The Gers Are Having A Party' at the final whistle as they left Hampden without any further damage to their dignity.

Hoops boss Ronny Deila joined his players in an a post-match salute to the Celtic fans enjoying some fist pumping as his attempt to put his mark on the club takes root.

The scoreline was along expected lines with most experts predicting a two or three goal advantage with little of the on-field fervour and animosity that characterised the fixture until Rangers went into liquidation.

FRAGILE

With confidence still fragile in the Deila regime most Celtic supporters arrived at Hampered with a hint of fear despite every indicator pointing to a victory for their favourites.

The Hampden pitch was in poor condition after Saturday's Dundee United v Aberdeen match ruling out any chance of a passing game.

Celtic opened up on the offensive and took the lead with the first meaningful chance of the afternoon. Stefan Johansen's driven cross from the right was met perfectly by Griffiths who ghosted in between two Rangers defenders to head powerfully past Steve Simonsen from inside the six yard box.

With one header the shape of the game was changed with Rangers forced to make an attempt at pressing Celtic back with a front line of Kenny Miller 'supported' by a midfield chosen for damage limitation.

"To get a start in a derby game was magic," Griffiths said. "It was good to repay the manager with a goal after ten minutes. The stadium was full of noise and it was great to be involved in a game like that, thankfully we came out on top.

"Stefan has got a great left foot, he's always putting balls through for strikers and when I saw the ball coming through I got in between the defenders and put my head on it, thankfully it ended up in the back of the net.

"I won two semi-finals with Hibs and lost out in the finals so I know what it's like after winning a semi. Hopefully I can make make it third time lucky this time in the final.

"I was brought here to score goals and win trophies, we won the league last season but this year we want to win the treble.

There was a few near things around Simonsen's goal but it took till the 30th minute for Celtic to increase their lead.

A driving run from Scott Brown was halted at the edge of the penalty box but as the ball broke Commons fired in an unstoppable shot past Simonsen.

Some Celtic fans would have preferred their side to go on and inflict more damage on their troubled neighbours but there was no further scoring.

In stoppage time there was a minor skirmish with players squaring up to each other after Brown had chopped down Ian Black.

The jostling was half hearted, like much of the game with both sides moving on with no idea when they will next collide.

Another former Hibs man Brown, heralded a job well done. "After the first half we'd done the job and then we just sat back, let them counter-attack," Brown said. "We knew they'd ping it in the box but they didn't have a shot on target."

"We did what we had to do, we did our job," Brown added.

"It was a great Rangers-Celtic game. We were the better team, the better footballing team."

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