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  • Griffiths the hat-trick hero as Celts hammer Eibar

    Griffiths the hat-trick hero as Celts hammer Eibar

    By: Martin Dalziel in Eibar on 18 Jul, 2015 18:57

  • Pre-season friendly

    SD Eibar 75th anniversary

    Ipurua Municipal Stadium, Eibar

    Saturday, July 18

    CELTIC...4

    (Ambrose 49, Griffiths [penalty] 59, 74, 89)

    SD EIBAR...1

    (Arruabarrena [penalty] 68)

    A SECOND-HALF hat-trick from Leigh Griffiths helped Celtic to a 4-1 friendly victory over SD Eibar tonight (Saturday) as the La Liga side celebrated their 75th anniversary.

    The Hoops striker was a thorn in the side of the hosts all evening and took his goals well, converting with conviction from the penalty spot after Efe Ambrose’s opener and then creating a wonderful strike out of seemingly nothing to put the game out of sight.

    The forward then sealed his third by capitalising on a slip from Andoni Errasti and slipping the ball into the net from a tight angle.

    Ronny Deila used the match to give a first start to new keeper Logan Bailly and he got an early touch of the ball after kick-off as the home side pressed high while Celtic stroked it around in the opening stages.

    Nadir Ciftci got the first shot on target for the Hoops with a good header in the box but Xabi Irureta had his angles right and saved well. That was followed by a good spell of pressure from Celtic but a quick counter from Eibar led to a free-kick and shot from Dani Nieto on 16 minutes but his left-footed strike went safely over Bailly’s bar.

    The Bhoys were in charge of the match with the hosts unable to deal with their quick passing but their good work was almost undone midway through the first-half when they conceded a penalty. Darnell Fisher was caught out of position with a long cross-field pass from Eibar into the box and Boyata tried his best to cover for the right-back but he blocked the lively Nieto’s shot with his hand.

    The Eibar midfielder took the spot-kick himself but the effort was well saved by Bailly who dived low to his right to get a strong hand onto the shot. The keeper then had Boyata to thank when the defender had to race to the goals to hook Endika Arandilla’s lob off the line after Bailly miscued a clearance on the 18 yard line.

    The chaotic Iriarte was then booked for another off the ball challenge on Scott Brown before the game settled into more of a rhythm with Celtic passing with patience and Eibar looking to hit on the break.

    The Hoops had a chance to go into the lead when Ciftci won a free kick just outside the box but van van Dijk’s shot from the set-piece curled inches wide.

    Boyata was called into action once more to save his side before the break and he showed excellent timing to nick the ball off Luna just before half-time as the striker threatened to pull the trigger 18 yards out.

    Celtic brought on a trio of fresh faces for the second-half as the manager replaced Boyata, Mulgrew and Ciftci with Efe Ambrose, Emilio Izaguirre and Anthony Stokes.

    And it was the Bhoys’ Nigerian defender who put the Celts into the lead just minutes later after he nodded home a free kick from Leigh Griffiths.

    Forrest had used his pace to pull out wide right but the winger was fouled as he headed for the touchline. Griffiths curled a dangerous ball into the area from the set-piece and the defender was in the right place to cushion the ball beyond Irureta and delight the fans with his trademark celebration.

    The goal brought Eibar out of their defensive shell and they could have equalised with a string of good chances in the aftermath but a combination of good defending from the Hoops and poor finishing kept Deila’s men in front.

    Griffiths then turned from provider to scorer when he won a penalty after being hauled to the ground by Irureta, who had fumbled a save on his 18 yard line. The striker stepped up to take the set-piece and smashed an unstoppable shot into the right corner of the net to put the Celts 2-0 up.

    The Hoops then took the advantage of the second goal to make a raft of changes as the game wore on but that encouraged Eibar, who pulled themselves back into the game when they were awarded another penalty when a shot rattled off second-half substitute Izaguirre’s arm in the box.

    Substitute Mikel Arruabarrena took the responsibility and calmly converted from 12 yards.

    Any hopes of a comeback where then almost immediately snuffed out when Griffiths bagged his second and Celtic’s third. The striker gathered a good pass from second-half sub Kieran Tierney on the corner of the box and fired a low shot into the net beyond Andoni Errasti at his near post.

    The Hoops hit-man then sealed his hatrick two minutes before time when he forced Errasti into another slip in the box and slid a low shot into the net from a tight angle.

    The victory was the perfect way for the Bhoys to prepare for Wednesday's trip to Iceland to face FC Stjarnan and gave the travelling support the entertainment their backing deserved.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bailly; Fisher (Janko 60), Boyata (Ambrose 46), van Dijk, Mulgrew (Izaguirre 46); Brown, Bitton (Rogic 60), Forrest (Tierney 60), Ciftci (Stokes 46), Armstrong (Lindsay 60), Griffiths

    Not used: Fasan, Scepovic

    SD EIBAR starting XI: Irureta; Gayoso, Corral, Silvestre, Errasti, Etxaburu, Nieto, Arandilla, Iriarte, Luna, Keko

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