Lennon’s Bhoys up and running

NEIL LENNON claimed his Celtic side surprised him with the quality of their performance in a commanding 2-0 win over Hibernian at Easter Road.

The Hoops had a comfortable start to their Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaign and never looked like losing after Anthony Stokes opened the scoring with a close-range strike in the 14th minute following a mistake from Hibs keeper Graham Stack.

Ki Sung-yueng doubled the visitors’ lead with a fine low drive just after the hour mark to seal the points.

And while Stack made some amends when he saved Gary Hooper’s penalty in the 68th minute the Parkhead side ran out easy winners.

Lennon, whose side now face four challenge matches before their next SPL game against Aberdeen, said: “I thought we were outstanding in the second half.

“It was probably more than I could have expected at this stage of the season. So I am delighted with the performance, result and clean sheet. I thought the players adapted brilliantly.

“We got a break with the goalkeeping mistake but we had good control of the game and going forward we were excellent.”

Suspended skipper Scott Brown was not missed in the Celtic midfield, an area in which Lennon claims he is well stocked. “We are sort of spoilt for choice,” the Irishman said. “We had Joe Ledley wide left and he had an excellent game in an unfussy sort of way.

“Ki has been consistent over the last 18 months and is developing nicely in to a top class player.”

Stack admitted culpability for Celtic’s first goal when he flapped at Kris Commons’ free-kick to allow Stokes to scoop the loose ball into the net but was glad he responded after the break with his penalty save.

“I am disappointed,” he said. “I came in at half-time and took responsibility for the goal.

“I should have dealt better with the cross and unfortunately for me it fell to Stokes. It was the first thing I had to do in the game. I think there was contact but I am not going to make excuses. But it is the way you react to mistakes and that was a positive for me.

“I could quite easily have gone under, with the game on TV and a big crowd against a big side. It’s a test of character. I was determined to turn things round in the second half and I wanted a save to make amends.”

Hibernian boss Colin Calderwood denied the apparent uncertainty surrounding his future had an effect on his side. The former Scotland defender has been linked with the assistant manager’s job at Notts Forest and Birmingham but asked if he was confident speculation had not played a part in the defeat, he said: “Absolutely. 100%. We just don’t have the experience to get through 90 minutes at the moment. We won’t play Celtic every week. But whether it is Celtic, Rangers or St Johnstone, we want to be competitive and we weren’t in the end.”

HIBERNIAN: Stack, Wotherspoon, O’Hanlon (Stephens 61), Hanlon, Booth, Murray (Crawford 85), Sproule, Palsson, Thornhill, Stevenson (Galbraith 70), O’Connor.

CELTIC: Zaluska, M Wilson, Loovens, K Wilson, Izaguirre, Kayal, Ki, Ledley, Commons (Forrest 60), Hooper (Maloney 86), Stokes (Samaras 79).

Referee: Iain Brines.

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