Vakoun Bayo has insisted he should be credited with a two-goal contribution to Celtic’s 3-1 victory over Hearts despite claims from Craig Levein that they were both own goals by his players.
Ivory Coast international striker Bayo made his first starting appearance for Celtic as they stayed top of the Premiership table on goal difference from Rangers ahead of next Sunday’s first Old Firm showdown of the season at Ibrox.
Bayo claimed his first goals for the Scottish champions either side of a Callum McGregor strike before Conor Washington’s late consolation for Hearts.
According to Hearts manager Levein, defenders Christophe Berra and Craig Halkett applied the final touches to Bayo’s goals but the 22-year-old, who also struck a post with a header, was adamant they deserve to remain on his ledger.
“I scored twice today,” said Bayo. “I touched the ball for the first goal and the defender also touched the ball but I got the last touch on it. I got the last touch for both goals. I disagree that they were own goals.
“I should have scored three and the manager has told me that as well. He has been very supportive of me since he came in and it has paid off today.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon was full of praise for Bayo who has been badly hampered by hamstring problems since signing from Slovakian club Dunajska Streda for £2 million in January.
“We were a bit slow to get the ball into him early on but once he found his feet, he was superb,” said Lennon. “He should have had a hat-trick and I’ve told him that as well.
“His forte is getting on the end of crosses. He was unlucky to hit the post with his header. But he can be absolutely delighted and we all are with him. I loved his second goal, it was a real striker’s goal getting across the defender and a wonderful finish.
“He had a real bad hamstring rupture which kept him out from March onwards. Then he was looking decent in pre-season when the hamstring injury reoccurred. So he’s had to be patient. It was a good opportunity to showcase Bayo today and see what he could do in that environment. He excelled. We now have three excellent strikers in him, Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths.”
Hearts, who have not won a league match since March, find themselves sharing bottom spot in the Premiership with Kilmarnock.
“I am sitting here very frustrated,” said Levein. “We scored two own goals and gifted Celtic their other goal. They had five shots in the match. So I am sitting here feeling that we shot ourselves in the foot. Celtic don’t need a hand when it comes to scoring goals and I felt that is what we did today.
“Our game plan was obviously to try and hit on the counter attack. I thought we restricted Celtic very well in the match. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities. But, for me, if you come here and give Celtic five opportunities I would think that’s a fairly reasonable defensive display. But we have scored two own goals and the third one is a silly mistake at the edge of the box.
“Christophe said the first one hit his hip, Halkett said the third went in off his toe. I have watched it back and I agree with the boys. You have got to credit the striker with getting into the area and such like, but the facts are the ball has hit off our boys. It doesn’t matter. My point was that we have assisted Celtic in their attempt to score goals.”