Celtic's Mohamed Elyounoussi out to complete a different sort of 'hat-trick' in Europa League play-off
On-loan attacker also speaks of “joy” with club’s creative numbers
A strange form of hat-trick is on offer to Mohamed Elyounoussi in the Europa League play-off against FC Sarajevo.
The on-loan Southampton has re-invigorated his second loan season at Celtic over the past two games with two goals. The first was a right-foot drive that saw off a stubborn Riga in the previous round of the Europa League qualifiers a week ago. Then on Sunday, the Norwegian international completed a 3-0 victory over Hibernian with a left-foot effort. Now, for the header in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina...
“Why not? It would be nice,” said the 26-year-old. “The most important thing, of course is that someone scores for Celtic and wins the game for us. But, I have scored a hat-trick before with my left foot, right foot and head – so why not do it again tomorrow night? That would be very nice.”
Elyounoussi agrees it is a “joy” to play in a Celtic team with so much creativity, a delightful through ball from new arrival David Turnbull setting him up against Jack Ross’ men on an afternoon in which Jeremie Frimpong, Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie, Oliver Ntcham and even Scott Brown all produced potent moments. That not all can be accommodated by Neil Lennon - Elyonoussi found himself benched for a spell - is not lost on him, though.
“It is a joy for me. Absolutely,” the player said. “But, I am also happy I am not the manager having to pick the starting eleven. We have so many talents and great players, both in the starting 11 and on the bench.
“You look at the players he can bring in and there is a lot of quality there. In the end we are going to need the whole squad for the games we’ll face this season. It will be a massive season for us, we are going to need the whole squad. It’s nice to have so many good players – and it is also healthy competition.”
Turnbull looks likely to offer ever more competition thanks to the £3.25m signing from Motherwell looking sleek and assured in his early outings. The Scotland under-21 international shares with Elyounoussi a two-footedness that appears unmatched elsewhere in the ranks of the Celtic squad.
“It is always good to have all the strings to play with. Maybe it makes it even harder for the defenders to know which foot you are going to use,” Elyounoussi said. “That’s good, it is a nice quality to have.
“I didn’t know David much from before. But since he came in for training the first time he has looked good. He has always been confident. He has this view in front of him, he knows where the other players are and what their movements can be like.
“You saw that on Sunday with my goal. When I ran in behind their defence I knew he was going to find me. I wasn’t worried about that. David is a good player and I’m sure we are going to see much more of him.”
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