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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Bhoys boss Lennon impressed by 'outstanding' defender Ajer

Kristoffer Ajer celebrates scoring Celtic's equaliser during their Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match against Motherwell at Fir Park. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Kristoffer Ajer celebrates scoring Celtic's equaliser during their Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match against Motherwell at Fir Park. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Jamie Holland

Celtic manager Neil Lennon hailed the "outstanding" Kristoffer Ajer after the Norwegian scored his first goal in Scottish football on Saturday.

Ajer lined up at right-back at Fir Park and netted Celtic's quickfire equaliser in their 5-2 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Motherwell.

The centre-back was filling in for Hatem Abd Elhamed, who was given the day off to recover from a minor muscular problem ahead of Celtic's Champions League second leg against Cluj on Tuesday.

But he looked more than comfortable in the position as he defended superbly as well as racing forward to reach a return pass from James Forrest and cancel out Liam Donnelly's opener.

Celtic went on to dominate after Leigh Griffiths netted from a free-kick just before the interval and Forrest, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie were all on target before Donnelly's late consolation.

Lennon said: "Ajer was magnificent. He is playing so consistently, I don't think he has missed a minute of a game for me, certainly in the league anyway. In Sarajevo he played right-back, was brilliant, and he was brilliant again.

Scenario

"It's not an ideal scenario, having to change the back four from Wednesday.

"But it shows the quality he has, he is not just a versatile player, he plays the positions really, really well. He doesn't just get by, he is outstanding in both of those positions."

Griffiths hailed the potential of Ajer and the 21-year-old's finishing.

"You saw big Kris Ajer strolling up from right-back, it was like he was a big Duncan Ferguson up there, such a composed finish," the striker said.

"The sky's the limit for him, honestly. He is so composed, so good, for such a young lad as well.

Jermain Defoe's hat-trick rounded off a jubilant week for Rangers as they mauled 10-man Hibernian 6-1 at Ibrox.

Steven Gerrard's team welcomed Paul Heckingbottom's men to Glasgow with confidence surging after following up their last-gasp win at Kilmarnock in their Ladbrokes Premiership opener with an impressive four-goal display against Midtjylland in the Europa League.

Defoe was given the nod over Gers' midweek man-of-the-match Alfredo Morelos and the veteran poacher proved he deserved his place with a clinical treble.

Morelos then made sure he got in on the act as he quickly added two after replacing his strike rival, with Sheyi Ojo's late strike rounding off a dream seven days for the Ibrox side.

Ireland's Daryl Horgan had pulled one back for Hibs just before half-time but hopes of a comeback died as soon as Sean Mackie was dismissed 10 minutes into the second-half.

Irish Independent

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