Malmo will punish Celtic sloppiness, warns Leigh Griffiths

AFP| Updated: Aug 18, 2015, 09:23 AM IST
Malmo will punish Celtic sloppiness, warns Leigh Griffiths

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has warned his teammates they will have to tighten up in defence or face European heartache.

The Scottish champions, who are preparing to host Swedish side Malmo in the first leg of their crucial Champions League play-off round at Celtic Park on Wednesday, have conceded late goals in their past two matches.

Celtic lost their spot at the top of the Scottish Premiership last Wednesday when a late Kilmarnock penalty earned the Rugby Park side a 2-2 draw.

And on Saturday, the Hoops had raced into a four goal lead against Inverness Caledonian Thistle thanks to first half headers from Mikel Lustig and Griffiths before a second half brace from Stuart Armstrong.

However, errors at the back allowed Inverness Caledonian Thistle to halve the deficit and Griffiths conceded that Swedish champions Malmo would take advantage of any similar sloppiness on Wednesday.

"It`s a warning. If we play like that in the Champions League we will be severely punished," the Scottish striker said.

"We played really well but we gave away a couple of sloppy goals at the end that by our standards were very poor.

"It is something we will look at in training during the week and make sure we sort it for Wednesday.

"We proved we can break at pace and we have players who can hurt teams, like myself, Stefan Johansen, Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong, but it`s all about taking your chances.

"The Malmo game wasn`t in our minds. We take each game as it comes and we wanted to get a positive result after last Wednesday night."

Griffiths has started the season strongly with four goals to his name already.

However, the Scotland international has so far been overlooked for Celtic`s Champions League qualifiers, with summer signing Nadir Ciftci leading the line against FC Stjarnan and FK Qarabag.

"You never know if I will get the nod," Griffiths added.

"I have done my chances no harm with scoring the goal.

"It`s all about what the manager thinks on Wednesday afternoon when he names the team.

"If I am not in it I will give my full support to Nadir. He will no doubt do a job for the team and I will be ready if I am needed to come on.

"It`s disappointing when you score a goal and the big games come around and you are on the bench. I just have to bide my time."

Malmo boss Age Hareide led his side to the Champions League group stages last year and is confident he can repeat the feat following his side`s win over Red Bull Salzburg, who had the better of Celtic in last year`s Europa League.

"Salzburg are a better team than Celtic. Celtic are a good team. We have every respect for Celtic," the Norwegian said.

"But the truth is Salzburg are better and showed it in the Europa League last year too."

His Celtic counterpart and Fellow Norwegian Ronny Deila dismissed his claims.

"We`ll see on Wednesday. That`s when they have to show they are better," the Hoops boss said.

"European matches are tough - you win or lose on the smallest details. We`ll fight to show Hareide is wrong. The pressure is on him after what he said."