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Lennon praises resilient Celtic's ability to 'grind it out'

Aberdeen 1 Celtic 2

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Celtic’s Callum McGregor celebrates. Photo: PA

Celtic’s Callum McGregor celebrates. Photo: PA

PA

Celtic’s Callum McGregor celebrates. Photo: PA

Celtic boss Neil Lennon praised the character and resilience of his side after they came out on top against Aberdeen despite being drawn into a battle with both the Dons and the remnants of Storm Dennis.

At a windswept Pittodrie, the visitors took the lead through Callum McGregor after 10 minutes, but were pegged back before half-time thanks to Ash Taylor's composed finish.

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Aberdeen's Scott McKenna and Celtic's Leigh Griffiths battle for the ball. Photo: PA

Aberdeen's Scott McKenna and Celtic's Leigh Griffiths battle for the ball. Photo: PA

PA

Aberdeen's Scott McKenna and Celtic's Leigh Griffiths battle for the ball. Photo: PA

It looked like a share of the spoils was on the cards before Kristoffer Ajer coolly netted an 81st-minute winner for Lennon's side.

The Armagh man said: "I'm thrilled. It's a massive win in treacherously difficult conditions to play football. All credit to the players who dug out a marvellous result.

"You can't always play slick, quick football and we had to grind it out today. We didn't want to drop points obviously, but it was perhaps looking like we would. A point at Pittodrie is sometimes a decent result and in these conditions the game could have gone either way.

"We've a bit of character and resilience. We're not getting ahead of ourselves, there's a lot of football yet to play, but in the context of the run that we're on it's a big win."

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: PA

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: PA

PA

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Photo: PA

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes felt his side were the better team on the day, but is focusing on the positives of the performance.

"When you play against a team like Celtic with so many good players, it has to start in the head with the mindset to make the game go our way.

"I thought we were the better team, and we spoke at half-time about the mentality of the Celtic players and how they wouldn't accept not winning, and we asked our players to go out with the same mindset.

"It was exactly how my team needed to play against a good Celtic team and I felt the performance merited something from the game - but you don't get points for a performance."

Rivals Rangers managed to edge past Livingston with a 1-0 victory at Ibrox to keep their title hopes alive.

Livingston's 20-year-old goalkeeper Ryan Schofield, on loan from Championship side Huddersfield, made three saves in a first half affected by the swirling wind before former Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield drove through his legs in the 58th minute for the game's only goal.

Celtic remain 10 points ahead at the top having played a game more than their Old Firm rivals as both clubs turn their attention to respective Europa Leagu are going to Copenhagen, while Rangers host Braga, but domestic advantage still lies solidly with the champions.

Irish Independent