LEIGH Griffiths believes Celtic’s Champions League ambitions will be shattered by Malmö if they fail to cut out the defensive lapses which blotted their Premiership win over Inverness on Saturday.
Celtic were cruising to all three points when they went 4-0 up with just over 20 minutes remaining, but then conceded twice in a disorganised final spell of the match.
While the Scottish champions were satisfied to return to winning ways after dropping their first two points of the season in a 2-2 draw at Kilmarnock last midweek, Griffiths admitted to concerns over their failure to keep a clean sheet.
Preventing Malmö from claiming an away goal will clearly be one of Celtic’s priorities in the first leg of the Champions League play-off round tie at Parkhead on Wednesday night.
“It’s a warning,” said Griffiths. “If we play like that in the Champions League we will be severely punished.
“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 and Stuart Armstrong, but it’s all about taking your chances.
“At 4-0 up we were looking at going on and winning five or six. But credit to Inverness. They came back at us in the last half an hour.
“The Malmo game wasn’t in our minds. We take each game as it comes and we wanted to get a positive result against Inverness after dropping points against Kilmarnock last Wednesday night. Having done that and got three points on the board, we’ll have a wee rest and get down to work on Monday for Malmö.”
Griffiths scored his fourth goal of the season on Saturday as he bids to convince manager Ronny Deila he should be his first-choice striker.
Summer signing Nadir Ciftci remains suspended from domestic action for another two matches but the Turkish striker will be available for Malmö and has started all four Champions League qualifiers ahead of Griffiths so far.
“You never know if I will get the nod against Malmö,” added Griffiths. “I have done my chances no harm with scoring again. 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’ll 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. If I am involved, then great. If not, I will support Nadir.
“If I get a chance against anyone, I am confident I will put it away. I should have done better with one in the second half on Saturday but I got one opportunity in the first half and scored with the header.”
Scott Allan, who was introduced to the Celtic support before kick-off on Saturday, will be eligible to make his debut for the club against Malmö.
Griffiths is delighted to welcome the midfielder from Hibs and revealed his well-reported boyhood allegiance to Rangers has already been the source of ribbing from his new team-mates.
“He wasn’t even in the dressing-room door and Charlie Mulgrew was winding him up!” said Griffiths. “It will remain behind closed doors but it was great banter from the likes of Charlie and Scott Brown. It was good fun but I am sure Scott will take it in his stride.
“It’s great to have Scott on board and we’ll welcome him to training on Monday. He’ll want to prove a point.
“I know him really well from Scotland under-21 games. He’s a good player who likes to make things happen. I am sure he will be a good addition to the club.
“It doesn’t matter if you support Rangers of East Stirling. As soon as you pull on that Celtic jersey, the fans will take to you straight away.”