Patryk Klimala bagged his first competitive Celtic goal today before earning big praise from manager Neil Lennon post-match.
The Polish forward came on as a late substitute in this afternoon’s 5-1 opening-day hammering of Hamilton Academical. With Odsonne Edouard having already bagged a hat-trick, the pressure was on the former Jagiellonia Bialystok man to make an impact.
Yet he didn’t need long to do just that. Just four minutes after coming on, he timed a run to perfection as he got to a through ball ahead of Accies’ last-man. From an acute angle, Klimala then angled a fine finish beyond Ryan Fulton to put the cherry on top for Celtic.
His manager, meanwhile, didn’t forget about him post-match either. Speaking to the BBC, here’s what Lennon had to say:
“He should do (get a mention after his goal). He should be really pleased with that.
“Great run, and he showed real strength and then a great finish as well. He can be pleased with the work that he’s put in over the last few months. It’s starting to come to fruition now so we’re obviously delighted with that.”
Klimala is getting difficult to ignore
A striker’s job is to score goals, and that’s exactly what Klimala has been doing since returning to pre-season training.
It was easy to brush off his goal against Nice in France as well as his brace against Hibernian at Celtic Park in last weekend’s friendly. After all, that’s all they were – friendly games. But coming on for the final few moments and bagging your first competitive goal? It’s clear plenty of work has been put in over the close-season.
Of course, the work can’t stop here. With Leigh Griffiths looking sharp against Hibs last week and no doubt ready to chip away at Klimala’s heels for a place in the squad, the Polish youngster can’t drop off in either his work-rate or goal-return.
Overtaking Edouard isn’t going to happen of course. But there is a real intriguing battle shaping up regarding who can be next in line behind him or potentially alongside him should Lennon ever change back to a two-striker system.
It’s highly doubtful that Klimala will start against Kilmarnock next week. That spot should be Edouard’s all day long, especially since we don’t have a game to look forward to in mid-week. But you can bet after his strike today that the manager will be looking for him to make a similar impact next week if necessary, and hopefully with more minutes than he got today.
Regardless, this is a really big step for the striker. Let’s see how he kicks on ahead of a huge campaign for the club.