Georgios Samaras scored his first hat-trick in three years to help Celtic to a comfortable 5-2 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday but insists neither he nor the Hoops needed the added confidence to face Barcelona on Tuesday night.
The Greece striker’s performance in the Scottish Premiership win over Killie was described as “world class” by manager Neil Lennon.
Samaras was reluctant to accept his coach’s accolade and claimed there was no need for a boost ahead of the Group H clash with the Catalan giants, who will be without Lionel Messi after he limped off out of Saturday night’s 2-0 win over Almeria with a thigh injury after scoring his side’s opener.
The former Manchester City forward said: “You cannot compare the two games and (say) that because we won against Kilmarnock, confidence will be high. Confidence is always high.
“We always believe in ourselves and our team. We don’t need to beat Kilmarnock 5-2 to go and be competitive against Barcelona.
“I feel good within myself. I don’t need any confidence. I believe in myself every hour and every day.”
After Kris Commons capitalised on a mistake by Killie keeper Craig Samson to give the Hoops the lead in the 19th minute, Samaras scored twice, both with well-taken shots, to give the visitors an apparently unassailable lead.
However, Kilmarnock midfielder Sammy Clingan reduced the deficit with a great free-kick before defender Sean Clohessy made it 3-2 just before the break.
The home side, though, did not really threaten in the second half, and Samaras sealed the win in the 87th minute with a header before substitute Amido Balde, on for Teemu Pukki, scored a fifth two minutes later.
Inverness Caley Thistle maintained their 100% home record with a comfortable 3-0 win over Hibernian at the Caledonian Stadium.
Two strikes from Billy McKay and one from captain Richie Foran ensured Terry Butcher’s side responded to last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Aberdeen in the best way.
Furthermore, the victory restored the Highlanders to a share of top spot after Celtic’s win earlier in the day.
John Sutton scored a second-half double as Motherwell came from behind against Ross County to record their fifth victory in six games.
Motherwell started well but fell behind on the half-hour mark when Melvin de Leeuw’s heavily deflected shot went in off the post.
But Sutton headed into the top corner from a corner-kick in the 54th minute. He then finished brilliantly into the other side midway through the second half.
And substitute Bob McHugh provided another excellent finish to secure a 3-1 victory.