NEIL LENNON admitted it was good to shake off nine days’ worth of rust during the 6-0 Champions League qualifying romp over KR Reykjavik at Parkhead last night.
The Celtic boss was left frustrated as the team were forced into a shutdown due to the Boli Bolingoli incident that saw their Premiership games against St Mirren and Aberdeen cancelled.
The blundering Belgian’s incomprehensible action to go on a secret trip to Spain and his subsequent ignoring of the government’s coronavirus quarantine guidelines threw the Hoops gaffer’s preparation work into turmoil.
Bolingoli played for nine minutes in the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park before his misdemeanour came to light and the retrospective action taken by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. His career at Parkhead is now almost certainly over.
It was crucial the champions did not step on a banana skin that would have led to European oblivion and the players responded with a solid, professional performance in the landslide triumph against the Icelandic title winners. Mohamed Elyounoussi, who hit a double, got the breakthrough effort in six minutes and the home side were three goals ahead by the interval with a deflection from an Icelandic defender and a thumping header from Christopher Jullien.
Greg Taylor collected his first goal for the club a minute after the restart with a close-range header following a superb delivery from Hatem Abd Elhamed on the right.
Odsonne Edouard claimed his customary goal in the 71st minute before being replaced by new Bhoy Albian Ajeti and Elyounoussi brought down the curtain down with No.6 in the fading moments.
Lennon, speaking to Celtic TV, admitted: “It was a good performance. I’m delighted with the result, and I’m delighted with the amount of goals we managed to score, as well.
“Just to get us up and going again and get that match rhythm, that will do the players the world of good.”
Speaking of the barrier-breaking strike so early in the encounter, Lennon said: “Lovely goal, great take from Moi, who had a really good game and got stronger as the game went on as well which pleased me.
“But, all around, a really good team performance.
“These games are sometimes difficult to negotiate, but I think the players will definitely benefit from the work that’s been done and now we look forward to a big couple of weeks.”
Asked about Taylor’s goal, he said: “Very pleased. It’s a great ball by Hatem, I thought he was very good. He looked strong and it was nice to see him back getting 90 minutes under his belt.
“He’s been knocking on the door and obviously with him and Jerie (Frimpong) you’ve got a good two to pick from.
“I was pleased with (Nir) Bitton, as well, I thought he came through the game very well, and then Olivier (Ntcham) comes on and shows that bit of class that he has.
“We needed that with the break and the stop-start beginning to the season, so, hopefully, that’ll do the world of good for the psychology of the group.”
Celtic will discover who they will play in next week’s home second round tie when Ferencvaros and Djurgardens play tonight.