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Lennon salutes Bayo but Hearts boss disputes goals

Celtic 3 Hearts 1

Final touch: Vakoun Bayo and Christophe Berra look on as the ball sails in for Celtic’s opening goal
Final touch: Vakoun Bayo and Christophe Berra look on as the ball sails in for Celtic’s opening goal

By Gavin McCafferty

Neil Lennon hailed Vakoun Bayo after the striker claimed a double on his first start - even though Hearts manager Craig Levein insisted they were both own goals.

Bayo attacked crosses from James Forrest and Kristoffer Ajer as Celtic finished the weekend on top spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership following a 3-1 home victory.

Hamstring injuries had restricted the 22-year-old to three late appearances off the bench following his January move from Slovakian side Dunajska Streda, but he made his mark in Celtic's third league win from three.

Forrest's 29th-minute cross was bundled home as Bayo competed with Christophe Berra and the striker was on hand again on the hour mark after Ajer's low delivery was swept home as the forward challenged with Craig Halkett.

Bayo later headed against the post before going off with cramp.

Lennon said: "We were a bit slow to get the ball into him early but, once he found his feet in the game, he was superb and should have had a hat-trick. I have told him that as well.

"His forte is getting on the end of crosses and he's unlucky, he hit the post with a header, but he can be absolutely delighted, and we all are with him as well.

"I love the second goal. It's a real striker's goal, getting across the defender. It's an absolutely wonderful finish.

"He had a real bad hamstring injury and that kept him out from March onwards. Then he had a decent pre-season and the hamstring recurred. So he has had to be patient with the injury and his rehabilitation."

Bayo said: "I touched the ball for the first one. The defender also touched the ball but I got the last touch. I scored two goals."

However, Hearts manager Levein said: "I'm very frustrated. We scored two own goals and gifted Celtic the third goal. They had five shots on goal in the match so I'm sitting here feeling we have shot ourselves in the foot.

"Celtic don't need a hand when it comes to scoring goals and clearly that's what we did. Christophe said it hit his hip, Halks said it went in off his toe. I have watched it and I agree with the boys. You have got to credit the striker with getting into the area and such like, but the facts are they were own goals.

"But it doesn't actually matter, my point was we have assisted Celtic in their attempts to score goals."

Callum McGregor netted the second from 25 yards in the 54th minute but Levein was disappointed Loic Damour had lost possession seconds earlier.

Meanwhile, Lennon is hopeful of bringing in new players ahead of the last full week of the transfer window.

"We need players in in two or three positions," said Lennon, whose latest signing Fraser Forster saved a late penalty before Northern Ireland striker Conor Washington netted the rebound.

"That's been ongoing for quite a while. Hopefully, we can get some quality bodies in Monday or Tuesday. If we do, I'd like to take them to Sweden to get them integrated if they have got an opportunity to play (against Rangers) next weekend."

CELTIC: Forster, Ajer (Ralston, 87 mins), Jullien, Bitton, Bolingoli, Brown, McGregor, Ntcham (Johnston, 69 mins), Forrest, Christie, Bayo (Griffiths, 78 mins). Unused subs: Gordon, Hayes, Shved, Edouard.

HEARTS: Pereira, Smith (Brandon, 18 mins), Berra, Clare, Washington, Mulraney (White, 81 mins), Whelan, Damour (Ikpeazu, 70 mins), Halkett, Irving, Hickey. Unused subs: Doyle, Bozanic, Dikamona, Henderson

Referee: Willie Collum

Man of the Match: Vakoun Bayo

Match Rating: 7/10

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