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'The title is a million miles away': Neil Lennon cools nine-in-a-row talk after Celtic extend lead

 

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon with Odsonne Edouard

Celtic manager Neil Lennon with Odsonne Edouard

PA

Decisive touch: Odsonne Edouard  scores Celtic’s second goal

Decisive touch: Odsonne Edouard scores Celtic’s second goal

Celtic manager Neil Lennon with Odsonne Edouard

Neil Lennon claims Celtic are "a million miles" away from a ninth-successive Ladbrokes Premiership title despite a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock taking them 12 points clear of Rangers at the top.

Killie striker Eamonn Brophy scored in the seventh minute with a penalty he won when he was fouled by returning Hoops defender Jozo Simunovic.

However, goals from Kristoffer Ajer, Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths drove the league leaders to a comfortable win.

Alex Dyer's side ended the game with 10 men after midfielder Alan Power, already booked, was sent packing by referee Kevin Clancy for his challenge on right-back Jeremie Frimpong.

"The performance and the reaction to going a goal down pleased me most," said Lennon. "Though I felt the first goal shouldn't have counted as Brophy was offside when he got the ball.

"The title is a million miles away as far as we are concerned, we just want to concentrate on our affairs.

"In the second half we were outstanding and I think some of our football was simply irresistible at times.

Lennon is confident James Forrest will recover from a knock which kept him out of the game to face FC Copenhagen in the Europa League on Thursday night, while hoping skipper Scott Brown and fellow midfielder Olivier Ntcham recover from calf injuries.

He added: "I don't want to talk about titles. I just want to talk about the game and we are looking forward to a big European night on Thursday.

"Since the turn of the year, we have been magnificent.

"I don't want to keep going on about mentality and stuff but we have some outstanding footballers.

"There was a lot of good football and the guys deserve a lot of credit."

Asked about the key players missing from yet another impressive performance which sets them up for the Europa League, following a 1-1 draw at the Parken stadium on Thursday, the Lurgan man said: "Jamesy should be fine but we will have to wait and see with the other two.

"Olly has a bit of a calf strain that he has been playing with for the past two games and we didn't want to risk him."

Kilmarnock remain in seventh place, five points behind Hibernian but - with five fixture remaining before the split - boss Alex Dyer believes a top-six spot is still feasible.

He said: "Of course. That is the message we have got, we have got five games, they are important.

"It is going to be a tough run in but they are games that, if we want to get to the top six, we have to win."

CELTIC: Forster, Simunovic, Jullien, Ajer, McGregor, Frimpong, Rogic (Elyounoussi, 74 mins), Christie, Taylor, Griffiths (Bitton, 82 mins), Edouard (Bayo, 74 mins). Unused subs: Bain, Bayo, Klimala, Bauer, Bolingoli.

KILMARNOCK: Branescu, O'Donnell, Power, Dicker, Brophy (Kiltie, 66 mins), Hamalainen, El Makrini (Burke, 46 mins), Findlay, Broadfoot, Del Fabro (Taylor, 70 mins), Kabamba. Unused subs: Koprivec, Johnson, Millen, Connell

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Man of the match: Callum McGregor

Match rating: 7/10

Celtic 3

Kilmarnock 1

PWDLFAPts

Celtic282512821776

Rangers272043631864

Motherwell2713311353442

Aberdeen281189353341

Livingston2810810393638

Hibernian289109404337

Kilmarnock289514293832

St Johnstone277119274632

Ross County287813285529

St Mirren265714213522

Hamilton284915285021

Hearts2731014274919

Belfast Telegraph