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Sparks fly for Neil Lennon and Steve Lomas

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon and Steve Lomas found themselves at odds over two major incidents during Celtic's 2-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park, which took them to within four points of Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Rangers.

Saints’ boss Steve Lomas questioned the honesty of Daniel Majstorovic's challenge on David Robertson on the half-hour mark which saw both players go off, but which left the Sweden international with a suspected fractured cheekbone and eye socket.

Lomas also claimed that Hoops midfielder Beram Kayal should have been sent off after the break for charging down Liam Craig's free-kick after being booked by referee Euan Norris for doing it the first time.

Celtic broke for Ki to score Celtic's second goal, adding to Gary Hooper's opener minutes earlier, with the Perth boss saying: “Maybe you don't get those decisions against Celtic.”

However, Lennon said: “I don't think it deserved a booking the second time and the Majstorovic challenge was a perfectly good full-blooded challenge from a centre-half who only had eyes for the ball and he ended up worse off for his own bravery.

“There was nothing wrong with the challenge at all.

“It looks like a fractured cheekbone and it could be a fractured eye socket as well. It is a big blow because he has been immense for us.

“We will have to wait to see the extent of it but it looked a real sore one.”

Asked about Majstorovic's challenge on Robertson, Lomas, who was “proud” of his side's performance, said: “I haven't seen it again but I thought the big centre-half knew he was 70-30 in favour.

“It might have just been an honest collision but I wouldn't bet my house on it.”

Lomas (pictured) claimed that Norris's refusal to take action against Kayal was a turning point.

He said: “The guy got booked and then the second time he was four yards away before our player even struck it. We went to sleep and they scored on the counter which made it comfortable for them. I don't want boys sent off but rules are rules. I can see it from where I was at.

“Maybe he didn't see it but if he has booked him once, you would like to think he is looking the second time.

“Obviously he has to make a big decision, hasn't he?”

The Celtic boss admitted he had been out of the country last night checking on players, but was unhappy about the assumption that he was looking at Maritimo striker Baba Diawara, a transfer which reportedly fell through in the summer due to red tape.

Lennon said: “I was over looking at a couple of players. I didn't get back until four in the morning so am I bit tired.

“But why are you asking about Diawara? I went to watch a number of players. I am not here to answer questions about speculation, let's leave it at that,” Lennon added.

The Hoops got the breakthrough they desperately needed after an hour when Hooper squeezed the ball past Peter Enckelman from around a yard out after Saints failed to clear a Charlie Mulgrew corner which was first contested by defender Victor Wanyama.

In the 63rd minute Celtic doubled their lead with a breakaway Ki goal after a flowing move involving Cha, James Forrest and Georgios Samaras ended with the South Korean slamming in from 10 yards out.

The points were effectively sealed with Ki's goal and the visitors played out the rest of the game in control and can now turn their attention to their games over the festive season which might change the landscape at the top of the table.

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