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LENNON PRAISES ‘BIG PLAYERS’

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A RELIEVED Neil Lennon praised his Celtic players as they came back from the shock of going a goal down to power to a 4-1 win at Hamilton Accies this afternoon.

The Hoops boss groaned when the Premiership’s bottom outfit took a 27th-minute lead with a bullet header from Marios Ogkmpoe to rock the visitors.

However, Accies were left with 10 men following a red card for Jamie Hamilton seven minutes later after he hauled Leigh Griffiths to the ground.

Referee Nick Walsh banished the defender and awarded the visitors a free-kick and it got worse for Brian Rice’s side when Odsonne Edouard swept in the award for the equaliser.

It remained that way until Christopher Jullien netted from close range in the 78th minute and Edouard added a quickfire third.

HEAVENS ABOVE…Odsonne Edouard salutes after the equaliser with Kristoffer Ajer about to congratulate the French ace.

James Forrest put a gloss on the scoreline with No.4 in the first minute of stoppage-time.

With Rangers drawing 0-0 against Aberdeen at Ibrox yesterday, the Parkhead men, who play Motherwell at Fir Park in midweek, are now seven points clear, although Steven Gerrard’s outfit have a game in hand.

Lennon watched his team win their fifth successive game since returning to action following the mid-winter break.

The delighted gaffer, speaking to BT Sport said: “It was tough, as I expected it to be. I didn’t think we played well in the first-half at all. There was a slow tempo, so we made a few adjustments.

“Obviously, Hamilton were dogged, down to 10 men and defending for their lives. It was a question of patience.

“We knew that once we got the second goal we would be in control. You always need a two-goal buffer, just in case.

“It’s turned out to be a wonderful day for us.”

LIFT-OFF…Christopher Jullien is congratulated by Jonny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths after the second goal.

Lennon threw on substitutes Ryan Christie, Jonny Hayes and Tom Rogic for Olivier Ntcham, Greg Taylor and debutant Stephen Welsh in the second period with Accies still hanging on grimly.

The Irishman said: “I thought they were great and made a big difference. Sometimes when you have been out for awhile it takes time to get going and once Ryan got into the pace of the game he was superb.

“Edouard’s free-kick was amazing, as well. It was a really tight angle, close in and sometime they are the most difficult, but he made it look easy.

“Big players turn up in big games and when we really needed them they were there.

“I thought James Forrest was outstanding, absolutely brilliant.”

At the end, Lennon was taking nothing for granted and added: “It’s nice to be seven points clear at the minute.”

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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