Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 October 2017

McGinn puts feet up after helping Bhoys close gap on Old Firm rivals

St Johnstone 0
Celtic 3

McGinn: on the double. Photo: Reuters
McGinn: on the double. Photo: Reuters

Niall McGinn returned home to Tyrone for a well-earned break after his double at McDiarmid Park helped move Celtic within a point of SPL leaders Rangers.

The Hoops winger missed pre-season training after breaking a bone in his foot at the end of the last campaign but returned to score in last Wednesday's 3-2 League Cup win over the Saintees at the same venue.

It took just over a minute to open the scoring against the Perth side in the rematch with a similar goal, pouncing on a rebound from goalkeeper Graeme Smith's save to knock in from close range.

Defender Emilio Izaguirre doubled the visitors' lead before Northern Ireland international McGinn finished off a convincing win a minute from the end with a scuffed shot.

Last week's home defeat against Rangers left Neil Lennon's side three points behind their Old Firm rivals but the gap was closed when the champions drew against Inverness at Ibrox.

McGinn is simply glad to be back contributing to the cause.

"I am just happy to be playing again," said the former Derry City player. "A lot of thanks has to go to the gaffer for giving me the opportunity to play and hopefully I rewarded him by scoring goals.

"Most importantly we are back to winning ways and we have to keep pushing on. I missed pre-season so over the last few weeks I have been doing extra. The international games came at the right time. I got a wee run-out against Italy and got 90 minutes against the Faroes.

"Then last week I played for the Celtic second team and scored a couple so everything is going in the right direction. I just have to keep taking my opportunities when they come. The goals are a bonus, the points are the most important thing. It shows we can bounce back after an Old Firm defeat and hopefully we can go on another long run. I will go back home and put my feet up now because I'm tired after two games in three days."

Celtic boss Neil Lennon had dropped right-back Cha Du-Ri to the bench and brought in Mark Wilson but had to reinstate the South Korean and change the team-sheet after skipper Shaun Maloney withdrew minutes from kick-off after succumbing to a stomach bug.

Irish Independent

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