Astana 1-1 Celtic: Leigh Griffiths hails Patrick Roberts' tenacity

Celtic's Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths embrace
Patrick Roberts set up Leigh Griffiths for Celtic's goal

Leigh Griffiths hailed on-loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts for setting him up for Celtic's equaliser against Astana.

The 19-year-old won possession near the bye-line before finding the striker.

"He's done magnificent," Griffiths told BBC Scotland after the 1-1 draw in the Champions League qualifier.

"Nine times out of 10 people just let that run out of play, but the wee man kept going, kept the ball in play and cut it back."

Celtic had gone into the third round of qualifying's first leg in Kazakhstan with their options in central defence seriously limited by injury and unavailability.

But the partnership of Efe Ambrose, whose mistake led to a shock 1-0 defeat by Lincoln Red Imps in the first leg of the previous round, and 20-year-old Eoghan O'Connell earned praise from Griffiths.

"He's done excellent," he said of the Republic of Ireland Under-21 cap. "He came in against Leicester and performed perfectly well and scored a great goal.

"Apart from a couple of slack passes, him and Efe did really well and he is only going to get confidence from that."

Griffiths and new strike partner Moussa Dembele had rarely threatened their hosts before the Scotland international cancelled out Yuri Logvinenko's 19th-minute opener with 12 minutes remaining.

"The big man is a good player and I'm sure that, when he gets that first goal, he will go on a run," Griffiths said of the former Leicester City 20-year-old.

Efe Ambrose speaks with fellow Celtic defender Eoghan O'Connell
Efe Ambrose and Eoghan O'Connell were Celtic's pairing in central defence against Astana

"Thankfully, the ball fell to my feet and I put it away.

"I just want to continue my form from last season and, if the big man can chip in with a few goals, that would be great."

Griffiths believes that, despite Astana having the better of the game in Kazakhstan, the Scottish champions are now in a strong position to progress.

"It was difficult," he admitted. "We knew coming over here that they would have a lot of pressure.

"They scored from a set-piece, which was poor from our point of view, but we kept our head down and kept working hard and deserved our away goal.

"They did not create many clear-cut chances - they had a lot of corners, a lot of long throw-ins, but apart from that, Craig Gordon has not had much to do.

"I think next week we'll definitely finish the game off."

Griffiths admits that, following that defeat in Gibraltar, many had expected Astana, who reached the group stage last year, to go through.

"Everybody said this team was in the Champions League last season and they would be too strong and good for us," he added.

"But we showed that we can cope with that and on any given day we are a match for anybody."

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