Griffiths okay for Europe

Leigh Griffiths allayed any fears of missing Celtic’s Champions League opener after he came off with another calf injury during Scotland’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Malta at Hampden Park.

The Hoops striker set up Christophe Berra to head in the opener in the ninth minute with a perfectly-executed corner and grabbed the second just after the break to keep qualification hopes alive.

However, there was a scare when Griffiths, who has been bothered over the last year with calf problems, limped off in the 70th minute to be replaced by Chris Martin. But the Celtic attacker is confident of being fit for Friday night’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Hamilton and the Champions League opener against Paris St Germain at Parkhead next Tuesday night.

He said: “It is okay, it was just a precaution. I was running through on goal and felt a kick to my calf.

“The game was safe, they weren’t causing us problems and I have a big month ahead for Celtic.

“I will be fine for Friday, I will go in tomorrow and see the physio and see what the manager wants to do, if he wants to rest me for Friday to be ready for Tuesday then happy days.”

With two Group F fixtures remaining, Gordon Strachan’s side moved on to 14 points, one behind Slovakia, who visit Glasgow next month before Scotland travel to Slovenia for the final fixture, and two wins would secure second spot and – hopefully for the Tartan Army – a play-off place.

Griffiths has been directly involved in six of Scotland’s last seven goals in World Cup qualifying and he said: “It is going great. You can see why my manager at club and country has put me on corners and free-kicks with those deliveries.

“I am just happy with the three points and looking forward to the next double-header.

“We know it is going to be crucial, we start off with a home game and the fans will come in their numbers and back us right to the hilt and we have to replicate our recent performances to get a result.”

Hearts defender Berra praised Griffiths for planting the corner from the right on his head.

He said: “The majority of my goals from set-pieces are at the back post and Griff has got a great delivery.

“He always put it in the danger area and he did that and I was lucky enough to get a goal.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult game, Malta were well organised and well coached and to get the early goal took the pressure off us and the tension out of the stadium and we controlled most of the game.

“On another day we might have scored more but the objective was to get three points and we did that.

“We need to win our remaining two games and I know the Tartan Army will fill the stadium and it will be a great atmosphere.”

 

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