Monday 27 March 2017

Lennon won't get distracted by form of Old Firm rivals

CELTIC 3
HAMILTON 1

John Nisbet

Neil lennon has claimed he will not concern himself with results at Rangers as he continues to drive Celtic on in their bid to recapture the SPL from their fiercest rivals.

In Saturday's lunch-time kick-off, Walter Smith's side battled back from behind against Hearts at Tynecastle to win 2-1 with an injury-time goal from Steven Naismith.

The pressure to respond against Hamilton at Parkhead later in the day appeared to affect Lennon's side, who fell behind to a Mark McLaughlin goal after only three minutes and could have conceded more during a shaky start to the match.

But in the 25th minute Shaun Maloney levelled with a header from close range. And the same player, put the Hoops ahead with a wonderful free-kick after the break, before Gary Hooper sealed the victory for the Hoops.

Saturday's results mean that Celtic are above Rangers on goal difference, each having won their first seven league games.

After being asked if it had been a disadvantage knowing what Rangers had done earlier in the day, Lennon replied: "I don't really know. But we can't dictate what Rangers do. We have to look after our own results and we did that.

improvement

"The consistency that both teams are showing is something to be admired and we will keep pushing and trying to improve. But we need a big improvement on that performance against Hamilton over the next few games."

Lennon praised Maloney, who, with Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifier against the Czech Republic on Friday in Prague, will hope to maintain his recent good form. "He was fantastic," Lennon said. "He has been playing brilliantly. It was a wonderful free-kick, but his overall performance was of a very high standard and I'm delighted for him."

And Lennon refused to point the finger at centre-backs Glenn Loovens and Daniel Majstorovic after Celtic had to recover from a ropey start and insists any problems his side have are general rather than specific.

"The opening 15 to 20 minutes was very poor and we went to sleep on numerous occasions. The decision-making was poor and the defensive discipline was poor," he said.

"I've been pleased with the two centre-halves. I think they have looked pretty solid and they can't be at their best every game.

"They didn't have a great start today, but in general they got better as the game went on. They weren't the only culprits. We were poor in possession and the tempo was poor. So, I wouldn't point the finger at those two as the main reason we got off to a poor start."

Irish Independent

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