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Lennon delighted as Stokes on mark in Saints thrashing

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Celtic's Anthony Stokes. Picture credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Celtic's Anthony Stokes. Picture credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Celtic's Anthony Stokes. Picture credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

NEIL LENNON was delighted to see Anthony Stokes back on the scoresheet as Celtic won 4-0 away to St Mirren.

The striker hadn't scored since the 5-0 win at Motherwell on December 6 but notched his first of 2014, and 100th career goal, early in the second half as Celtic took control to extend their unbeaten league run to 20 matches.

Four goals in a devastating 19-minute spell midway through the second half gave Celtic full points as they head towards a third consecutive title success.

"Anthony was 50-50 on Saturday but came in in the morning and said that he was fit," Lennon revealed.

"We asked for a big performance out of him and we certainly got that.

"I'm really pleased with his performance, he was much more like himself but he needs to find that run of consistency to bed down a place on a regular basis.

"We have a long way to go this season, we wanted to go into the break unbeaten, we got the goals, the clean sheet and three points so I'm delighted.

"Going through the whole season unbeaten I think is almost impossible but we've made big in-roads into that.

"All that I want to do is stay unbeaten for as long as we can."

The first half followed the pattern of recent Celtic games with only two efforts from Charlie Mulgrew and Commons that struck the woodwork hinting at what was to follow after the break.

DARTING

Eight minutes into the second half Mulgrew opened the scoring when he steered the ball beyond Marion Kello after a darting run from Adam Matthews into the heart of the St Mirren penalty box.

Stokes doubled the lead five minutes later with a well-drilled shot across Kello after being set-up by an inch perfect pass from Joe Ledley.

The Celtic support had been as subdued as their favourites until that point but suddenly found their voice as their side moved up through the gears.

Kello pulled off two eye-catching saves before Commons stooped low to head home an Emilio Izaguirre cross in the 72nd minute before blasting the ball high into the net two minutes later from a Forrest cut-back to put Celtic four in front.

Those goals took Commons' Celtic tally to 51 following his £300,000 transfer from Derby County three years ago, with Lennon hoping that he can find similar value in the January transfer window.

FANTASTIC

"His goal return this season has been fantastic," Lennon added about his former Nottingham Forest teammate.

"It would also be interesting to see how many assists he has had as well.

"I believe that he will get better, there are aspects of his game that he can work on.

"At 30 the penny drops and he has three, four or five good years ahead of him and he's getting better.

"It was another wonderful performance from him today, his vision is fantastic, the chip that hit the post in the first half could have been a goal of the season contender."

Celtic fly out to Turkey today for a week of sunshine training taking part in the Antalya Cup alongside Galatasaray, Trabzonspor and Ajax.

Georgios Samaras was missing yesterday through injury and will stay behind while his teammates are in Turkey with contract talks scheduled for tomorrow with his representatives.


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