LEIGH GRIFFITHS says he figured his first-half goal against Rangers would have gone in, though he was unhappy with the save of Allan McGregor that denied him the opportunity to give Celtic a deserved lead in the derby of the Old Firm.
Griffiths and his teammates had struggled to convert their Ibrox supremacy into an advantage and subsequently lost the game to Nir Bitton and Callum McGregor’s unfortunate own goal after a red card.
Although Griffiths thinks that Bitton’s red card – which he claims was incorrectly issued – has changed the direction of the game, he feels that Celtic is only responsible for the 19-point difference between the two sides.
If his 25-yard shot had landed in the top corner when Celtic were leading in the first half, it might all have been very different, but Griffiths was not shocked to see his former Scotland colleague somehow guide the ball to the far post.
Griffiths said, “I thought the ball was in,” “But he’s a world-class goalie. He gives you points, that’s what he offers you.
“I wasn’t able to hit it any easier. It had his fingertips on it, and the post went in. It was my chance and I didn’t capitalize on it. This week, we’re working hard, dreaming and getting ready for Hibs next Monday.
It was [a missed chance]. Because this season’s first half was the best we’ve played this season. And I don’t think the whole game had a goal shot from the Rangers.
It’s disappointing, but to be honest, it was the games early in the season that killed us. The start was not good enough for the season. We wouldn’t be in this role if we had put in performances such as that.
The disappointment of Griffiths over the way Celtic played between mid-October and early December is only compounded by the way the team is playing now, having regained its groove belatedly.
Today, it’s not just the first-half result, we’ve performed pretty well over the last few weeks,”It’s not just the first-half performance today, we’ve played really well in recent weeks,”
“We were unfortunate not to take a two-goal lead in the first half. We regrouped after halftime and went into the game with the same mindset.
I think the red card changed the game. In the first few months of the season, we hadn’t played well, but then in early December we got moving.
We were optimistic today and played well – I figured we were the better team until the sending off.
Again, the red card changed the game entirely, and from then on, the Rangers got the best of us.
“It’s too gentle for me. He has a long way to go, and Kris Ajer is on the road to recovery as well. But it’s happening now, and we can’t do anything about it.
“Whether it’s right or wrong is up to him [the referee]. Only he can come and explain his decision, but for me it’s soft.”
Griffiths says no one in the Celtic dressing room is willing to accept that the hopes of ten consecutive wins are now over, considering the immense gap to Rangers at the top of the Premier League.
He said, “We will fight to the end until it is mathematically impossible for us to win the league,”
We’re going to go away, think about it, work hard, get ready for Hibs.
“It’s difficult to lose any game. We dominated the game, in the first half in particular. But you’re not going to win games if you don’t take your chances.
“The guys are all hurt in there.”
No one, Griffiths said, hurt more than Bitton, who after being caught on the wrong side by Alfredo Morelos had to focus on his contribution to the loss.
But Griffiths says the team shares his disappointment and that his teammates are going to pick him up as they are now heading to Dubai to prepare for the second half of the season.
Griffiths said, “He didn’t say much,” And all the guys down there are distraught because of the outcome.
“I’m sure he’ll tell us what he was thinking.”