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Leigh Griffiths scores twice as Celtic kick off league defence in style

Leigh Griffiths

A double from Leigh Griffiths helped to secure a 4-1 win for Celtic as they kicked off their Premiership title defence as Hearts were put to the sword.

The Scotland international opened the scoring with a right footed finish after a ball from Nir Bitton on the half hour mark.

Scott Sinclair latched onto some poor defending from Aaron Hughes in the second half to tap home Celtic’s second before Griffiths headed home a Callum McGregor cross to make it three.

McGregor added a fourth for Celtic before Isma Goncalves scored a consolation after some slack defending at the back from the hosts.

Speaking after the match, the impressive Callum McGregor, said: “We just had to be patient and play the way we do, and thankfully we got the goals in the end.

“It is a big squad and big competition for places and you have got to be at your best to play. Hopefully that has shown the manager what I can do.”

Brendan Rodgers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised the work of McGregor, “He had a big season last year. He quietly goes about his work and is an outstanding player. We don’t sing too many songs about him but he comes in and trains well every day and can play in different positions.

“He was unfortunate not to have another couple of goals today and he is a top talent. I enjoy working with him. You can see the confidence in his game, he understands how we function and I think this will be another important season for him.”

Rodgers was delighted with the start that Celtic made to their Premiership defence, he added: “We wanted to make a mark and I thought the players were absolutely brilliant. We had to be patient – Hearts had a good structure and organisation, they were tight and compact.

“We had to pass and probe and eventually the space opened up. It was a very, very good performance and the start we wanted.

“The combination play was very good, we defended very well, pressed the game and forced Hearts to play a bit longer.

“Unfortunately we were only 1-0 up at half-time but we came out in the second half and just worked the ball, had good space in the team and created the chances. We got four and arguably could have got two or three more.”

Hearts interim manager Jon Daly commented: “Even at 4-0 down, the players showed character, they showed spirit and they kept going. It’s very, very rare that you go 4-0 down at Celtic and you pull a goal back.

“We take the positives from the game and the fans were excellent. The fact that they stayed till the end and applauded the players off shows me and the players that they appreciate what they saw. Jamie Brandon was different class. Lewis was excellent.”

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