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Celtic’s loud message

By Ronnie Esplin

Dundee United 0 Celtic 4: Neil Lennon continued his general media ban after Celtic cruised into the semi-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a 4-0 win against 10-man Dundee United at Tannadice.

The Hoops boss had cancelled his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Tayside, but before the game, when speaking to BBC Scotland, he claimed the club had been accused of trying to profit from administration-hit Rangers' financial worries.

The Ulsterman did not specify which reports had upset him, but said the Parkhead club are considering legal action and hinted at a media ban for the rest of the season.

“We decided not to hold a press conference this week because of all the nonsense going on elsewhere,” he told BBC Scotland.

“People accusing our club of trying to put people out of work at Rangers.

“It's in the hands of our legal team and it's probably best not to talk about it.

“(We want to) get our heads down and we want to talk about football.

“A lot of media outlets will be disappointed because we won't be speaking to them.

“We'll do our speaking through the club.

“I'm angry, but I'll deal with it in my own way.”

Lennon no doubt would have agreed that the game turned on

the dismissal of United defender Robbie Neilson in the 28th minute.

The home side were on top before the experienced defender, previously booked for a foul on Samaras, was shown a straight red by Iain Brines for leading with an elbow in an aerial tussle with the Greece striker.

In a one-sided second-half, Joe Ledley, Samaras and Anthony Stokes racked up an unbeatable lead before Hoops skipper Scott Brown scored from the spot a minute from time after Samaras was fouled by Sean Dillon.

United boss Peter Houston had not seen the Neilson incident again when he appeared at the post-match press conference.

However, he admitted disappointment in his experienced full-back whom he believes did not have to make the challenge.

“I feel it's hard enough trying to beat the champions-elect with 11 players never mind 10,” he said.

“I haven't seen it yet, but what I would say is that Robbie is on a yellow card and it's a challenge that he makes inside Celtic's half.

“I can understand if it was around the penalty box and they were going to score.

“He is not a dirty player, but he is an experienced enough guy, he should back off and not go into a challenge like that.

“It was a pivotal moment because effectively, it had a bearing on the game, rather than us being able to continue that good start we had, we had to take off a young

flair player in Gary Mackay-Steven.”

Ledley was put before the media after the match and he admitted that Neilson's dismissal, deserved as it was, made the difference.

“It was a definite sending off,” said the Wales international.

“He has led with his elbow and caught Georgios on the nose, even the player knew himself it was a sending off and so the referee got it right.

“They caused us problems in the first 15 minutes and they looked the better team and then the sending off did kill them and after that we dominated.

“The manager wasn't happy at the way we were playing in the first half and he made it clear in the team talk at half-time. We looked a totally different team in the second half and it was nice to get on the scoresheet.”

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Holders Celtic will take on either Hearts or St Mirren in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals at Hampden Park next month.

Hearts and St Mirren drew 2-2 at Tynecastle yesterday and now face a replay for the right to face the Hoops. Aberdeen, 2-1 winners at Motherwell yesterday, will play Hibernian who beat Ayr 2-0 on Saturday.

Dons boss Craig Brown said: “We're delighted to be in the draw, all the teams are fairly even. Celtic are the best team (left in) I think and to avoid them is fortunate, but I'm not taking anything for granted.”

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