HAPPY BHOYS

Christie ris­ing to se­ri­ous task of be­ing the main man

Scottish Daily Mail - - The Verdict - By JOHN McGARRY

RYAN CHRISTIE last night in­sisted he’s rel­ish­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity of scor­ing and cre­at­ing goals af­ter shoot­ing down Ross County with a dou­ble in a 4-1 vic­tory at Ding­wall. With striker Od­sonne Edouard cur­rently in­jured and a doubt for Sun­day’s Bet­fred Cup fi­nal with Rangers, mid­fielder Christie stepped up to con­vert a firsthalf penalty — via a re­bound — be­fore put­ting Celtic back in front fol­low­ing Ross Ste­wart’s equaliser. Fur­ther goals from Tom Rogic and Mikey John­ston put Neil Len­non’s men on easy street, but Scot­land star Christie’s con­tri­bu­tion couldn’t be over­looked as he be­came his team’s top scorer so far this season with 15 goals, one more than Edouard. ‘My goals are prob­a­bly down to a few things but I have been work­ing hard to add that to my game,’ said the 24-year-old. ‘The man­ager made it clear when he pushed me to a more at­tack­ing po­si­tion — off the striker or on the right — that I need to chip in. I like hav­ing that pres­sure and re­spon­si­bil­ity to score and cre­ate goals. ‘I have my own tar­gets and I want a few more be­fore Christ­mas, but it’s go­ing well. ‘We play a lot of games and the boys around re­ally help when it comes to get­ting chances. ‘Look at the bril­liant pass Kristof­fer Ajer played for my se­cond goal against County. ‘When you are play­ing in a team where boys cre­ate three or four of them for you ev­ery game, I will get more chances than most mid­field­ers in Scot­land.’ A brace to set up a tenth straight win would have been sweet in any event. Given

Christie’s his­tory down the road at In­verness Cale­do­nian This­tle, though, his smile af­ter yes­ter­day’s tri­umph was just that lit­tle bit wider. ‘I was gut­ted to miss the last County game through sus­pen­sion, as it’s al­ways nice to play against them,’ he added. ‘I was prob­a­bly the most ex­cited of all the play­ers as I was com­ing home. It was a chance for all the fam­ily to come and watch me, so it was good. ‘To top it all off with a win and a cou­ple of goals against my old ri­vals was nice.’ The his­tory books will not record his one mo­ment of angst. Re­flect­ing on the minute Nathan Bax­ter saved his penalty be­fore he bun­dled home the re­bound, Christie said: ‘I did panic a lit­tle bit. Luck­ily, it dropped to me again and I was able to score — but I got ham­mered off the boys. It was my own fault. I changed my mind at the last minute so I’ve learned that les­son.’ It proved to be in­con­se­quen­tial in the end. By the time Rogic and John­ston had put gloss on the score­line, Celtic had de­servedly eased to­wards an­other com­pre­hen­sive tri­umph. Whether the op­po­nent is in the colours of Rennes or Ross County, these days it seems Len­non’s play­ers yield not a sin­gle inch. ‘It’s ten wins but I don’t think most of the boys would even know that stat,’ Christie con­tin­ued. ‘For us, it’s about con­stantly look­ing for­ward to the next game. ‘We have the men­tal­ity to win ev­ery game and it’s got us into a good place. ‘It was a good win. The three points is the most im­por­tant thing but to score four goals is a nice touch. ‘Af­ter con­ced­ing the goal, we re­acted well as it would have been frus­trat­ing to give them some­thing to hang on to. ‘We then went up a few more gears in the se­cond half and put it to bed.’ If the prospect of fac­ing Rangers at Ham­p­den has been men­tioned in the Celtic dress­ing room, they hid it well. Adamant that the Premier­ship clash with Hamil­ton Ac­cies on Wed­nes­day was all that cur­rently mat­ters, Christie added: ‘All eyes will be on Sun­day but the league is the pri­or­ity for us at the mo­ment. ‘We showed that today with the per­for­mance at Ross County and hope­fully it will be the same on Wed­nes­day night. ‘We want to win and win well as that would set us up for Sun­day.’ Yes­ter­day was the first of nine games Len­non’s men face in a hec­tic December. Acutely aware of the dan­gers in tak­ing their eyes off the ball, Christie said: ‘It is hard. It gets talked about a lot but, af­ter a huge game last Thurs­day (against Rennes), we needed an­other big per­for­mance today. ‘We were straight back into train­ing and then it was a long jour­ney up the road. It’s tough but you need to have the right mind­set. ‘The gaffer says as soon as we let that slip, even for a se­cond, that’s when you get pun­ished and it’s hard to get your con­sis­tency lev­els back up. We’re happy with a good win but we move on to Wed­nes­day night.’ Be­fore that, though, some wel­come, if brief, respite. Hav­ing re­turned home to the High­lands and put in such a sparkling per­for­mance, it would have been rude to dash back. ‘I man­aged to stay up for the night as it was my mum’s birth­day,’ Christie smiled. ‘It’s a nice change to be able to get home as my mum and dad make the trip down a few times a month. It was nice to get all of my fam­ily to the game for once as well.’

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