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Celtic are 'beautifully' prepared to take on Lazio, says Neil Lennon

Celtic 6 Ross County 0

Neil Lennon, right, with Callum McGregor
Neil Lennon, right, with Callum McGregor
Statement of intent: Mohamed Elyounoussi is hailed by Scott Brown and Boli Bolingoli after netting against Ross County

By Robert Jones

Celtic boss Neil Lennon believes Saturday's 6-0 dismantling of Ross County "sets us up beautifully" for the visit of Lazio on Thursday night.

After taking just one point from their previous two Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures before the international break, there was some pressure on the champions to get back on track against the Staggies at Parkhead and their response was emphatic.

Attacker Mohamed Elyounoussi, on loan from Southampton, fired the home side ahead from 16 yards in the fourth minute but somehow the Highlanders survived to the interval without conceding any more goals.

However, four goals in nine minutes at the start of the second half from Odsonne Edouard, who struck twice, midfielder Callum McGregor and James Forrest had Lennon ecstatic long before Elyounoussi made it six to ultimately take the Hoops clear of Rangers by one goal scored at the top of the table, after the Light Blues could only draw 1-1 with Hearts yesterday.

The Ulsterman switched his focus to the Europa League where Celtic are top of Group E with four points as they prepare to take on Lazio on matchday three.

"It's a good response to one point from the last six," said Lennon. "I think we have a good team here, without getting carried away.

"We are in a good position in the group and that should give us a lot of confidence going into what should be a cracking game against Lazio.

"I hope the fans enjoyed it because that was for the fans as much as anyone else and now we are under the lights on Thursday night and I am sure will hear that roar again.

"I thought we were brilliant in the first half and very unfortunate not to go in leading by more.

"I know Ross (Laidlaw) from my time at Hibs and he made some spectacular saves. Our football at times was exhilarating and our athleticism, appetite and intensity to win the game.

"I threw down a challenge to them at half-time, I said, 'You can be one of two things, a nice team that plays good football and gives the opposition oxygen to stay in the game or you can go out and be ruthless' and they answered me in spades.

"We have a good team, I think there is more to come from them but that was a marvellous team performance all round.

"It could have been a lot more than six and that is not being disrespectful to Ross County, anyone at the game would have seen that."

Lennon was happy to see his men put pressure on Rangers, who could only take a point from yesterday's visit to Tynecastle.

"It was the kind of performance we know they are capable of," added Lennon, now in his second spell as Hoops boss. "We can enjoy the weekend.

"It is going to go back and forth for a while but if we play like that in the majority of the games it is going to take a good team to stop us. But we are not getting carried away."

County had gone into the game unbeaten in four matches but co-manager Stuart Kettlewell was far from happy with his side's capitulation against the champions.

He said: "We said during the week that we would never be judged on what we did here but we judge ourselves as professionals and people who have goals this season and one of those goals is to acquit yourself well."

Belfast Telegraph


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