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Celtic deliver again and put Euro horrors to bed

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon was pleased with the way his Celtic side responded against Hibernian on Saturday following their midweek Catalonian calamity.

The Hoops went into the Scottish Premiership game on the back of a 6-1 Champions League thrashing by Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night which had the Parkhead boss lashing out verbally at most of his players.

However, in swirling wind and rain in the east end of Glasgow, striker Teemu Pukki scored the first-half winner against a workman-like but limited Hibs side to extend Celtic's unbeaten run in the league to 15 games and keep them on course for the title and another tilt at European football's elite club competition next season.

"They weren't feeling sorry for themselves," said Lennon.

"Arsenal go to Man City yesterday and concede six, Spurs did that a few weeks ago as well so while it was tough to take, these things can happen.

"So we had to pick them up, say it is not acceptable but that it can happen.

"We move on and try to build for next year and we do that by trying to win the league.

"That is 15 unbeaten, 12 wins and three draws so it is a pretty impressive start domestically."

Both sets of players deserved credit for trying to play football in terrible conditions and the home side probably deserved their win.

Hibs skipper Liam Craig hit the post in the second-half but the visitors lacked the belief and conviction to take advantage of occasional moments of slackness in the Hoops defence.

Lennon claimed the Easter Road side's tactics sapped his side's energy more than the inclement weather.

"The pitch was okay and played okay," said Lennon.

"I think it takes two teams to make a game and Hibs set their stall out from minute one to get everyone behind the ball and make it difficult to break them down.

"We were forced to do all the running.

"I am not being critical (of Hibs), we go away at home at times in Europe and have to set up that way.

"We scored seven and five in the previous couple of league games so teams are wary coming to Celtic Park and hoping to get a break or a bit of luck.

"But you could see the tiredness kicking in as we were a little bit sloppy at the back at times in the second half."

Hibs boss Terry Butcher was pleased with his side's commitment and effort but with one goal in their last eight games, he knows where the problems lie and will look to address that when the transfer window opens.

"We've always wanted to bring players in, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"But the players here are working their socks off, they really are.

"It's just that when you go to Celtic you need to keep the ball better – and take your opportunities when you get them.

"The goals will come, I'm sure they will.

"We don't have to play Celtic for a while now which is nice and have four games in the Christmas period which are games we can win."

Belfast Telegraph


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