Dem­bele: I should have scored more against Rangers

The Herald - Herald Sport - - LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP - MATTHEW LIND­SAY

HAV­ING be­come the first Celtic player in no fewer than 50 years to score a hat-trick in a league game against Rangers, it is fair to say Moussa Dem­bele has made quite an im­pact since be­ing signed in the sum­mer.

Throw in im­por­tant goals in Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fiers against As­tana and Hapoel Be’er Sheva and the French for­ward has al­ready jus­ti­fied the pal­try £500,000 fee it took to se­cure his ser­vices from Ful­ham.

But has the prodi­giously-gifted 20-year-old been happy with his con­tri­bu­tion since ar­riv­ing at Park­head? Not at all. Like all good strik­ers, he is hun­gry to net even more.

“It’s never enough,” said Dem­bele. “I scored three [against Rangers], but I think I could have had more. Scor­ing that hat-trick was some­thing huge be­cause it hadn’t been done for years, but you al­ways think you could have im­proved on what you did.

“I an­a­lysed the game and saw things which I could im­prove. I’m still young and I’m still learn­ing the game and I un­der­stand that you can­not have the per­fect match.

“It doesn’t ex­ist. You must al­ways try to be per­fect, but you can never do it. So af­ter the Rangers game I fo­cused on work­ing ev­ery day to do bet­ter.”

The re­turn to fit­ness of Leigh Grif­fiths, who has been side­lined since last month with a calf in­jury, may go some way to­wards ex­plain­ing Dem­bele’s in­sa­tiable de­sire to get his name on the score­sheet more fre­quently.

Grif­fiths, who missed the 5-1 Lad­brokes Premier­ship vic­tory over Rangers and the 7-0 Cham­pi­ons League re­verse to Barcelona through in­jury, trained this week and is avail­able for se­lec­tion for the visit of Kil­marnock to Celtic Park in the league this af­ter­noon.

His team mate ad­mit­ted that the pres­ence of the pro­lific marks­man, who scored 40 times last term and has bagged seven goals so far this sea­son, has helped to bring out the best in him.

“It’s good to have a striker like him be­cause I know I need to be at my best when he’s around,” he said. “I al­ways wel­come a chal­lenge. Leigh is a good player and a good ad­di­tion to the team. He was in­jured, but now he’s back and that’s great for ev­ery­one.”

It cer­tainly presents Bren­dan Rodgers with a ma­jor, if pleas­ant, dilemma. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see who he prefers up front in Wed­nes­day’s Cham­pi­ons League match against Manch­ester City.

“The man­ager will make up his mind as to who plays and I will be happy with his de­ci­sion,” said Dem­bele. “But there is no ri­valry be­tween us – we get on quite well. He’s a good guy and so am I so there’s no fight be­tween us.

“We both want to play and we both give 100 per cent. Maybe we could both play to­gether but, what­ever hap­pens, I’m glad he’s here.”

Dem­bele has ex­pe­ri­enced lows as well as highs since mov­ing to Glas­gow; he failed to con­vert a penalty against Barcelona in the Nou Camp when Celtic were only trail­ing by a sin­gle goal.

The for­mer France Un­der-20 in­ter­na­tion­al­ist, though, be­lieves he can only learn from that ex­pe­ri­ence and from be­ing on the same field as the fa­bled “tri­dent” of Lionel Messi, Ney­mar and Luis Suarez.

“As a young player, to go to the Nou Camp to play against the best team in the world is some­thing great,” he said. “In a game like that, even though the re­sult was not what we wanted, it was valu­able to see what it takes to be a top, top player and that’s what I learned from the Barcelona game. That’s why I came here, for th­ese spe­cial mo­ments.

“It was dif­fi­cult go­ing from win­ning against Rangers and feel­ing so great to then go­ing to Barcelona and a re­sult like that. But like I said, you have to take the pos­i­tives and learn from the neg­a­tives so you can try to im­prove it next time.

“Celtic can make an im­pact in the Cham­pi­ons League. If we give our best and play to the level we are ca­pa­ble of then I think we can cause this Manch­ester City team some prob­lems.”

And if Celtic win a penalty against Pep Guardi­ola’s and Dem­bele is play­ing he will have no hes­i­ta­tion step­ping for­ward.

“I’m still on penalty duty; still con­fi­dent,” he said. “I didn’t dwell on what hap­pened in Barcelona. Ev­ery­one misses a penalty – even Lionel Messi or Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, the best play­ers, miss at some time.”

TWO OF A KIND: Celtic strik­ers Leigh Grif­fiths and Moussa Dem­bele.

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