Giorgos Giakoumakis insists Celtic must keep their focus to the end to ensure they get over the line in the cinch Premiership.
The Hoops moved six points clear of city rivals Rangers after grinding out a 2-1 Glasgow derby victory at Ibrox on Sunday.
While former Celtic defender Alan Stubbs branded the title race “a foregone conclusion” earlier this week, striker Giakoumakis is adamant his team cannot take anything for granted over the closing six games of the season.
“It was a tough game for us on Sunday,” said the Greek.
“It was about passion, duels and fight. They didn’t let us play our game but it was really important for us to win the game.
“We lead the race by six points. It is not over yet but it’s an advantage we have to protect to the end by winning every game.”
Giakoumakis sparked annoyance in the Rangers camp in February when he claimed Celtic were the strongest team in the league in every department.
Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack branded that claim “disrespectful” but Giakoumakis insists he was just stating his opinion at the time.
“I didn’t make those comments to make anyone angry or feel disrespected by me,” he said on Thursday after being named cinch Premiership player of the month for March.
“I said what I believed about my team. I believed at the time we were playing better as a team.
“That’s the only thing I said. I can say also now that we play very good football and I believe in my team. I don’t think it is bad for a player to say their team is the best.”
Giakoumakis is thrilled to have played such an integral part in Celtic pulling clear at the top of the league in the second half of the season after struggling for form and fitness prior to the winter break.
The 27-year-old scored only one goal before Christmas – at home to St Johnstone in October – but has netted 11 times since the turn of the year.
“The St Johnstone game was my first game in the first XI,” he said.
“I hoped after that it would be easier for me but then I got my injury and I was out for three months.
“I had to work a lot on my own but I can say since the start of the second part of the season I have really felt fit and strong and have been more like myself.
“We play really offensive football and really attractive football and it helps me a lot to have many chances in the game. After that, it is my job to score the goals.”
It has been noted that all 12 of Giakoumakis’ goals for Celtic have been one-touch finishes, and the former VVV Venlo player admits that is something he has been working on.
“I work a lot on my first-touch finishing,” he said.
“I can also score with more touches but I’m a striker and whenever I have the chance to score with one touch, I will do it.
“I try to improve even more on my first touch. Last season I didn’t score any with one touch but this season it has happened a lot. I don’t care how many touches I need, the point is to score.”