Scott Sinclair admitted his first Parkhead goal since January came as a major relief after his back-heeled finish earned Celtic a 1-0 win over Aberdeen.
Sinclair had only scored twice in his previous 31 matches before coming off the bench for the injured Odsonne Edouard just before the interval with the match finely poised.
But he showed his confidence had not been too badly affected when he produced an inventive piece of play to net from six yards in the 63rd minute.
The goal was enough to ensure Celtic bounced back in the Ladbrokes Premiership after taking one point from their previous two games.
Sinclair said: “It’s a big relief, for me personally and the team. The pressure’s building and it’s great for us to get three points and back to winning ways.
“When you’re not winning every single game and not scoring every single game, you are always going to get criticism, because the past couple of years that’s what I have been doing.
“It hasn’t been the best of starts personally and collectively but we have got the characters and the belief in ourselves to push through and get through it.”
After being Scotland’s undisputed player of the year in his debut season and finishing Celtic’s top goalscorer last term, Sinclair has found himself under fire with Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd accusing him of hiding during last weekend’s defeat at Rugby Park.
But Sinclair said: “The criticism doesn’t affect me. I believe in myself, I don’t need people telling me if I’m good or not. I know what I can do, the first season I showed it, and obviously the second season.
“But it’s up to me now to carry it on. Obviously it’s more difficult when you are in and out the team and obviously the manager knows that when I’m not playing, I am not happy.
“But I will never give up, I will always keep fighting, my head will never drop. But at the same time you feel you want to give more and when you come on, you have got to make an impact. And I showed that today.”
Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is confident Edouard will be fit for Thursday’s Europa League contest with Salzburg after being hurt by a wild and high challenge by Scott McKenna near the edge of the penalty box.
“If you’re talking about a reckless challenge then whenever young Scott jumps two foot off the floor like that and takes the striker as high as he has, then the very minimum it’s a free-kick,” he said.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty, it was just outside the line. But of course it gave Odsonne a dead leg and he couldn’t carry on. I think after a couple of days it should be fine.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes felt his team were worthy of a point and could not blame any of his players for the goal.
Leigh Griffiths initially held up James Forrest’s deflected cross before it broke for Sinclair.
McInnes, who started with two wingers and two strikers, said: “We came with a team to win.
“A lot of teams come here hoping to win and end up leaving with nothing. We have ended up leaving with nothing but we came with a team that was set up to win and we were very close to getting a result.”
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