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Griffiths celebrates a scoring comeback as Celts get off to a flyer

SC Pinkafeld 1-6 Celtic

Quick leveller: Leigh Griffiths scored Celtic's first goal
Quick leveller: Leigh Griffiths scored Celtic's first goal

By Ronnie Esplin

Leigh Griffiths marked his Celtic return with a goal as Neil Lennon's champions got their pre-season preparations off to a winning start in Austria.

The Scotland striker had not featured since December due to a combination of injury and personal issues.

But he bounced back from his off-field problems to fire Celtic level as the Parkhead men recovered from losing a shock opener to thrash Austrian amateurs SC Pinkafeld 6-1.

The hosts took their chance to grab a surprise lead on the half-hour mark as goalkeeper Conor Hazard spilled a long-range Dominik Sperl free-kick straight at Michael Pahr, who slotted home from close range.

But the lead lasted just six minutes as Griffiths grabbed his first strike since November.

Anthony Ralston freed Calvin Miller down the right and his cut-back left Griffiths with a simple tap-in as he got back to doing what he does best.

Youngsters Karamoko Dembele and Mikey Johnston were introduced as Lennon made his sweeping half-time changes, and it was the latter who fired the Scottish side ahead within 30 seconds of the restart as the 20-year-old steered home with a composed finish.

Teenager Ewan Henderson grabbed the third after 53 minutes as his strike from the edge of the box squirmed through keeper David Kayer's hands.

And with Pinkafeld tiring, Irishman Armstrong Oko-Flex got himself in on the action with six minutes left after producing a cute dink to finish off from Johnston's sublime through ball.

Jack Aitchison and Johnston then rounded off the scoring with another two goals late on.

Celtic - who face FK Sarajevo in their Champions League opener on July 9 - return to action on Saturday against Austrian third division outfit Wiener SC.

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