Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Celtic boss Lennon praises "unplayable" Samaras

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JANUARY 02: Celtic coach Neil Lennon celebrates at the end of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Celtic manager Neil Lennon described Georgios Samaras as "unplayable" after the striker's two goals guided his team to a 2-0 victory over Rangers at Ibrox.

The Hoops striker pounced on a Joe Ledley punt over the top in the 61st minute before rounding Allan McGregor and sliding into an empty net.

The Greece international then steered a spot-kick past the Light Blues goalkeeper after he had been felled in the box by Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra to increase Celtic's advantage at the top of the table to four points.

Lennon told Sky Sports 4: "Samaras was the big difference today, when he plays like that he is virtually unplayable.

"He has fantastic attributes, he just needs to get into his head he can do this.

"His attributes are not just top class but world class."

Lennon also admitted the significance of the victory as Celtic extend their lead to five points although Rangers have two games in hand.

"It's huge," Lennon added. "Going into the game I don't think many people gave us a chance.

"Once we weathered the initial flurry I thought we were by far the better side.

"They looked a team out there, we defended brilliant today.

"I think they got a bit of belief before half-time, they started the second half very well and were resolute and well-disciplined and our front men did the damage today."

Celtic had an injury-hit squad today and Lennon admitted he would like to add to it in the transfer window.

"You always look to strengthen from a position of strength but it will not be too many players."

Samaras talked down his own contribution, saying: "I don't want to talk about just my game.

"It was really hard work and I think we deserved to win the game."

Of transfer speculation surrounding him, he added: "I want to enjoy that result and then we can see in the next couple of weeks.

"It is not the right time, it was a great win."

Captain Daniel Majstorovic added: "It was great.

"We showed great character.

"We are the best in the league and we showed that today."

Rangers manager Walter Smith was philosophical after the game.

He said: "I thought we started very well and in the first half were the better side overall.

"We never really created that many clear-cut openings.

"Celtic started the second half the better and let the game settle and then two errors on our part has contributed to our downfall."

He added: "You have to give credit to Celtic, they defended well throughout.

"As the game went on you felt the first goal was going to be a very important one and the manner in which we conceded it was especially disappointing."

Of his side's two games in hand Smith said: "It is imperative we win games all the time.

"We just have to make sure we get back on track immediately."

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