MX23RW : Thursday, October 1 02:14:06| >> :120:37653:37653:
Jul 24, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at Celtic Park
Celtic
5-0
Nomme KaljuNomme Kalju
Ajer (36'), Christie (44' pen., 65'), Griffiths (45'), McGregor (77')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Griffiths admits being close to tears after Celtic goal

Griffiths admits being close to tears after Celtic goal
© Reuters
The 28-year-old found the top corner in first-half stoppage-time.

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths ranked his comeback goal alongside his double against England after marking his first start in eight months with a brilliant 30-yard free-kick.

The 28-year-old found the top corner in first-half stoppage-time as Celtic eased past Estonians Nomme Kalju 5-0 in the first leg of the Champions League second qualifying round.

Griffiths rejoined his team-mates at the start of pre-season after taking time off from football in December to deal with personal issues and battle depression.

And the Scotland international admitted being close to tears after punching the corner flag in celebration and sinking to his knees following his strike in first-half stoppage-time.

"That's up there with the England moments if I'm honest," he said. "Right at the very top.

"Words can't actually describe how good a feeling that was when the ball hit the back of the net.

"I had a great feeling as soon as it left my foot, as soon as it went over the wall. Absolutely delighted.

"A lot of things went through my mind. There's been so much hard work, not just by me, but the backroom staff at the club, everyone connected with myself has worked so hard to get me back on the pitch.

"And I can't score goals without my team-mates so the biggest thank-you goes to them.

"My kids were watching back home, I had friends in the stand. I was close to crying, I'm not going to lie. But I just had to refocus and see the half out."

Griffiths added: "Hopefully that's just the start. That's me up and running for the season and hopefully there's a lot more to come."

Manager Neil Lennon was fully vindicated after selecting Griffiths to start up front alongside Odsonne Edouard.

"I'm delighted for him," Lennon said. "He does what he does best. There's always an air of anticipation when he lines up a free-kick because he has that range, and you expect something to happen.

"I was disappointed with his first one but he more than made up for it with the second one.

"The reception he has got from the players since he came back, and the supporters and the club, makes me very proud and happy.

"He's got a huge lift from all of that.

"He needs to keep a level, he still has a bit of work to do on his conditioning as you can see but that will do his confidence the world of good. You could see what it meant to him."

Griffiths scored not long after Kristoffer Ajer's header and Ryan Christie's penalty put them firmly in command.

The Hoops were even more dominant after the break with Christie and Callum McGregor's goals making next week's away leg a formality.

"It was a brilliant performance," said Lennon, who revealed Boli Bolingoli had gone off through illness.

"It took a little bit of time to get going but once we got the goal, then we really upped the tempo.

"It puts a real marker down and we are still a work in progress."

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1RangersRangers97202231923
2Celtic87102351822
3Hibernian9522138517
4Aberdeen750285315
5Kilmarnock93241211111
6Dundee UnitedDundee Utd9324714-711
7Ross County9324714-711
8Livingston92251014-48
9Motherwell9225713-68
10Hamilton AcademicalHamilton8215613-77
11St Johnstone9216411-77
12St Mirren9216513-87

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