Monday, August 21, 2017

Lennon hails water-tight Celtic

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 12 Sep 2010

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Neil Lennon made a case for the defence after watching his side keep yet another cleansheet as they continued their perfect start to the season with a 3-0 victory over Hearts.

It was Lennon’s 12th league win in a row as manager – four of them this season – and keeps his side top of the Scottish Premier League on goal difference from Old Firm rivals Rangers, who won 2-1 away to Hamilton with a last gasp winner.

The Hoops have yet to concede a goal in the SPL this season with Celtic putting together a run of four consecutive shutouts.

It is a big improvement on last season when the Parkhead side’s longest run without letting in a goal was just two games as previous manager Tony Mowbray struggled to establish a settled back four.

Lennon moved to transform his backline in the summer bringing in Emilio Izaguirre, Daniel Majstorovic, Cha Du-Ri and keeper Fraser Forster with Glenn Loovens the only survivor from last season who started against Hearts.

And while admitting there is still a lot of work to do, Lennon said Celtic’s mean defence is a bright spot in their start to the season.

“That is the most pleasing aspect absolutely,” said the Celtic boss.

“The back four did very well again. There was a vulnerability about us last year. Now I’m not saying that in four games that has disappeared because it hasn’t as we did have a few anxious moments against Hearts.

“There were aspects of the game that didn’t please me and we just need to work on that but overall I am very pleased with our play.”

Against Hearts James Forrest tapped in Daryl Murphy’s cross to give Celtic the lead in the 28th minute with a goal on the break that had more than a hint of offside.

Shaun Maloney doubled the lead just before half-time and substitute Paddy McCourt rounded off the win with a superb individual goal in injury time.

The scoreline does not tell the full story of the match and Hearts had appeared likelier to score when Celtic struck on the counter attack to take the lead.

Manager Jim Jefferies was sent to the stand for his protests following the first goal and he blasted referee Willie Collum for allowing the goal to stand and ignoring his side’s appeals for a penalty when Izaguirre appeared to pull the shirt of David Templeton in the box early in the second-half.

“There was no arguing about it – I was standing a yard away from it and the boy was clearly offside,” the Hearts manager said.

“I probably would have been sent off in the second-half as well as Templeton was held back. He has taken a great first touch from a great switch of play inside the full-back and it should have been a penalty there as well.

“There was some doubt about the second one as well with the players saying it was offside.”

The Hearts manager said he would complaining to the SFA about the conduct of the referee after he tried to speak to the official at the break.

Rangers warmed up for their Champions League clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday with a last gasp 2-1 win away to Hamilton.

Nikica Jelavic headed Rangers into a sixth minute lead before a second-half own goal from Madjid Bougherra hauled Hamilton level.

However substitute Kenny Miller came to the rescue when his 90th minute lob preserved the Ibrox side’s 100 per cent start to the league campaign.

Rangers manager Walter Smith praised goalkeeper Allan McGregor who pulled off a string of good saves.

“He has done well for us for a long period and we are delighted with that aspect, his consistency of form has been terrific,” said Smith.

“He is an exceptional saver of the ball. His level of performance has been fantastic for us spread over the three-year period, not just in a game like today when he makes a couple of really good saves.”

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