Grif­fiths: It’s my fault. My shoot­ing boots were on the wrong feet

The Herald - Sport - - CELTIC 1 AJAX 2 -

Leigh Grif­fiths last night shoul­dered the blame for Celtic’s exit from the Europa League and in­sisted that he should have buried Ajax at Park­head, writes Gary Keown.

The striker missed two golden op­por­tu­ni­ties in the clos­ing 15 min­utes be­fore vis­it­ing sub­sti­tute Va­clav Cerny scored on the coun­ter­at­tack to give the Dutch league lead­ers a 2-1 vic­tory and de­stroy any faint hopes the home side had of making the knock­out stages.

Grif­fiths also put a couple of shots wide of the tar­get in the first half af­ter Arka­diusz Mi­lik had can­celled out an early opener from Cal­lum McGre­gor and was in­cred­i­bly harsh on him­self af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle with the Park­head club’s fi­nal match of Group A away to Fener­bahce of Tur­key on De­cem­ber 10 now mean­ing­less.

“This has been my tough­est mo­ment of 2015,” stated Grif­fiths. “100 per cent. I will be tak­ing a lot of stick from fans, but that is part and par­cel of foot­ball. We had the chance to go to Is­tan­bul with a chance and the fate rested with me and my shoot­ing boots. Un­for­tu­nately for me, they were on the wrong feet.

“I will beat my­self up un­til Sun­day. Ul­ti­mately, my per­for­mance has cost the team in Europe. I’m putting that on my­self be­cause I can’t fault any­one else in the team. I thought they were out­stand­ing.

“I will blame my­self. If I take my chances, it could be a dif­fer­ent score­line. I had three, four, five good chances. On an­other day, I would have scored two or three of them, but, tonight, it has cost us dearly.

“I prob­a­bly won’t sleep for a while tonight. I’ll sit up and re­flect on the game. “I couldn’t ut­ter a word to my team-mates af­ter the game. I was just so dis­ap­pointed. It is not their fault. It is down to me and my fin­ish­ing. If it was down to me, we could have gone 3-1, 4-1 or 5-1 up and put them out of sight.”

Grif­fiths ad­mits he would understand should Deila drop him from Sun­day’s Lad­brokes Premier­ship visit to In­ver­ness Cale­do­nian This­tle, but would love the op­por­tu­nity to take his anger out on the High­land side.

“If I was him, I would want to change it, but it is down to him and what he thinks is good for the team,” he said. “If he picks me, I will go out and give it ev­ery­thing.”

Grif­fiths in­sists Deila’s fu­ture should not be called into ques­tion de­spite Celtic’s exit from the com­pe­ti­tion and the side’s fail­ure to win a match in the Europa League.

“We had two good per­for­mances at the start of the group against Ajax and Fener­bahce and had an­other one tonight,” he said. “The two Molde games were really dis­ap­point­ing, but we can’t fault the man­ager for that.”

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