Moussa Dembele: Barcelona rout was as valuable as hat-trick

  Celtic's Scott Brown takes part in a mixed martial arts session today ahead of the MMA at TheSSEHydro on October 1st23/09/16   
  Celtic's Scott Brown takes part in a mixed martial arts session today ahead of the MMA at TheSSEHydro on October 1st
23/09/16 LENNOXTOWN Celtic's Scott Brown takes part in a mixed martial arts session today ahead of the MMA at TheSSEHydro on October 1st
Moussa Dembele has set the bar high as a Celtic player with an historic hat-trick on his Old Firm debut two weeks ago.

But, if that feat has already assured him of a place in the hearts of the Parkhead club’s support, the precocious French striker has no intention of resting on his laurels.

“It’s never enough,” observed Dembele as he reflected on an eye-catching start to his Celtic career in which that treble in the 5-1 demolition of Rangers was the obvious highlight.

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“I scored three in that game but I could have had more. Scoring the hat-trick was something huge, because it hadn’t been done in that fixture for so many years, but you always think you could have improved on what you did.

“So I could have scored more against Rangers. I analysed the game and saw things where I could improve. I’m still young and I’m still learning the game and I understand that you cannot have the perfect match.

“It doesn’t exist. You must always try to be perfect but you can never do it. So after the Rangers game, I focused on working every day to do better.”

For the 20-year-old former Fulham player, the match immediately after his Old Firm heroics proved less fulfilling when he missed from the penalty spot in the chastening 7-0 Champions League defeat in Barcelona.

But Dembele, who has scored eight goals in 14 appearances for Brendan Rodgers’ side so far, regards that night as an equally significant experience in his development.

“That’s why I came to Celtic,” he added. “As a young player, to go to the Nou Camp to play against the best team in the world is something great.

“In a game like that, even though the result was not what we wanted, it was valuable to see what it takes to be a top, top player and that’s what I learned from the Barcelona defeat.

“It was difficult going from winning against Rangers and feeling so great to then going to Barcelona and a result like that. But you have to take the positives and learn from the negatives so you can try to improve it next time.

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“We can never know if it would have made any difference if I’d scored against Barcelona at 1-0 down. I’m still on penalty duty despite that night. I’m still confident. I didn’t dwell on what happened in Barcelona. Everyone misses a penalty – even Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. The best players all miss at some time.

“The important thing is that when it happens you have to forget it and focus on making sure the next time you get a penalty you score.”

Before Celtic return to Champions League action at home to Manchester City on Wednesday night, they will seek to maintain their unbeaten start to the defence of their Premiership title when 
Kilmarnock are their visitors this afternoon.

Dembele faces renewed competition for the main striker’s role from last season’s leading scorer Leigh Griffiths, who is fit again after missing the last four games with a hamstring injury.

“I always welcome a challenge,” said Dembele. “Leigh is a good player and a good addition to the team. He was injured but now he’s back and that’s great for everyone.

“The manager will make up his mind as to who plays and I will be happy with his decision. But there is no rivalry between Leigh and myself – we get on quite well.

“He’s a good guy and so am I, so there’s no fight between us. We both want to play and we both give 100 per cent but it’s good to have a striker like him alongside you because I know I need to be at my best when he’s around. Maybe we could both play together but, whatever happens, I’m glad he’s here.”

Dembele is confident Celtic will not be distracted this afternoon by the prospect of facing Pep Guardiola’s in-form Manchester City side just four days later. He added: “For me, it’s not hard to focus on Kilmarnock because I always take it game by game.

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“The Manchester City game will come soon enough but our first priority is to make sure we take three points from Kilmarnock.

“I will look forward to Manchester City after Saturday and I still think Celtic can make an impact in the Champions League this season, despite the result in our first game against Barcelona. If we give our best and play to the level we are capable of, then we can cause this Manchester City team some problems.”