NADIR Ciftci believes he fired Celtic to their rightful place at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership in the 1-0 win at Motherwell on Saturday.
Aberdeen’s 2-0 defeat at Ross County on Friday night left the Hoops knowing even a draw at Fir Park, where Mark McGhee was beginning his second tenure as Well boss, would take them above the ailing Dons, who have now lost their last five games.
Ciftci, a summer signing from Dundee United, started as replacement for top scorer Leigh Griffiths, who was among the substitutes, and the 23-year-old Turkish forward was on hand in the 14th minute to guide the ball into the net after Motherwell goalkeeper Connor Ripley had blocked a Kris Commons strike.
Ciftci’s second goal of the season was ultimately enough to take Ronny Deila’s side two points clear of Aberdeen ahead of their Europa League clash with Molde in Norway on Thursday night.
“I’m happy that we got the win, that was important,” said Ciftci. “We saw that Aberdeen lost points so it is good to get to the top of the table.
“With the squad we’ve got here, we should be at the top of the table anyway. That’s what we’re concentrating on.
“Getting a goal is a bonus for me. But the most important thing was to get the points
“We should have scored more goals. But it was a good performance from the boys and we’re happy we got the three points.”
Ciftci might have scored a second after the break had Motherwell defender Kieran Kennedy not handled a Commons header back across goal.
Referee Alan Muir also decided to take no action before that when Celtic’s inspirational skipper Scott Brown went down in the box under a challenge from Kennedy.
“It happened right in front of my eyes – he took it away with his hand,” said Ciftci.
“It was a clear handball but we didn’t get it and had to get on with it. We should have had more goals before that anyway.”
McGhee, who took his first training session with the Steelmen last Thursday, looked forward to a full week’s work with his squad before the trip to Aberdeen next week.
The Scotland assistant boss said: “I have learned loads. I have a team that is prepared to work hard and as best they can, take my instructions on to the pitch.
“I will have a full week this week. We will train twice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and of course we will do something either up in Aberdeen when we get there or before we leave. So we have a lot of work that we can do on the training ground that can help improve on that (performance).”