TWELVE games remaining, 12 goals required.

Leigh Griffiths has already surpassed the expectations of most at Celtic by seeing off the challenges of a diverse array of characters and proving that he is, far and away, the club’s best option at centre-forward.

Taking a prized record from the demi-god that is Henrik Larsson would be quite some achievement, though. Quite some yardstick of how things have changed for the 25-year-old in the 14 months since he drove three hours to Sunderland to play – and score – for the club’s Development Squad in an attempt to prove to his manager, Ronny Deila, that he possessed the right kind of attitude to be a success at the Ladbrokes Premiership champions.

Griffiths has already beaten his own personal best for a campaign, seeing his tally rise to 32 with a late brace against Caley Thistle. He covets the record shared by Larsson and Brian McClair, however, of 35 goals in a Premier Division campaign and is closing in rapidly with 24 to his credit to date.

“If I can beat the record, I would be a happy, happy guy,” he said. “It would be massive.

“Henrik Larsson is the best striker who has played for this club. To be up there with the likes of him, Chris Sutton and John Hartson is great, but I want to make a name for myself.

“The only way I can do that is by playing well and scoring goals.

“We will see what happens in the future, but it would be great if people were to say: ‘Here comes the record goalscorer.’”

On Saturday, parked in the Main Stand of Celtic Park with the stadium closing down for the evening, the compliments were rather more backhanded. John Hughes, the visiting manager, encountered Griffiths on his way out of the Media Room and joked that he would have given him a pasting had he not been a fellow product of the Edinburgh district of Leith.

It was easy to see why Hughes should have reason to curse the former Hibernian striker. He helped set up Gary Mackay-Steven for the opening goal on 54 minutes and finished the match as a contest with a fine individual effort and another sharp finish in stoppage-time.

Without his contribution, this game could easily have been lost by Celtic. They did not play at all well, only beginning to show the necessary spark after Scott Allan and Ryan Christie had been introduced for Stuart Armstrong and Stefan Johansen around the midway point of the second period.

Celtic looked desperately stale prior to those changes. Johansen is having a dreadful time and should really be given an extended period out of the first 11. Armstrong is starting to look like he is not cut out for this particular movie.

True, he is not being played in his natural central midfield position. He would be well advised to head somewhere he will be used more fruitfully in the summer, though, because he is hardly taking his career to the next level at Parkhead.

In truth, this victory for Celtic, which places them six points ahead of Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership, was shaped by two inexcusable misses by the visitors with the scoreline blank.

On 17 minutes, the home goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, misjudged an outswinging free-kick from the left from Iain Vigurs and afforded Gary Warren a free header at an empty goal. Inexplicably, he placed it wide of the far post.

“The keeper’s come out, flapped and missed it,” said the centre-back. “That’s usually his bread and butter and, as a defender, you’re expecting him to catch it.

“Had it hit me straight on the nose, it would have gone in.

“If we had gone in 1-0 at half-time, I think we would have won the game.”

Even then, four minutes into the second period, Jordan Roberts got in behind Erik Sviatchenko to connect with a forward ball from Greg Tansey and advanced to the edge of the area, putting himself in a one-on-one situation with Gordon.

His final effort simply wasn’t good enough. It was far too close to the keeper and permitted a fairly straightforward block.

Griffiths spoke afterwards about the satisfaction of recording another clean sheet, but this could hardly be termed a solid performance from Deila’s side. They are, however, in a commanding position in the title race and Griffiths is confident they will, in similar form to last term, streak away from Aberdeen now that they have got their noses back in front.

“They clawed it back last season and we sort of steamrollered them a bit after that,” he said.

“It is good to get the experienced boys back.

“I think Scott Brown was a big miss for us. You saw that against Inverness.

“Aberdeen can talk, but it is about what we do.

“I have said if we do our business on the pitch then we will be champions at the end of the season.”

Having played his part in a 3-1 victory over Aberdeen a week ago, Warren finds it difficult to disagree.

“I just think that Celtic have that strength-in-depth that will carry them over the line,” he said. And a centre-forward who simply cannot stop putting the ball in the back of the net.