Lennon happy with cup boost

Neil Lennon admits Celtic’s 2-1 William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final win over St Mirren in Paisley on Saturday was required to keep the Hoops’ season “competitive”.

The Parkhead men are 16 points clear of Motherwell in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with almost no chance of them being caught.

Conversely, Celtic’sChampions League hopes appear to be over as they travel to Italy for Wednesday’s second leg of their last-16 clash with Juventus, looking to recover a 3-0 deficit from the first-leg but odds-on to exit the tournament.

With those two scenarios in mind, Lennon was pleased to see his side take one step closer to taking part in a showpiece Hampden final at the end of the season.

He said: “There were some great performances yesterday.

“Psychologically, it gives us a huge lift going into Wednesday and it keep our season competitive as well.

“If we had lost that would have been the season over competitively and I want them to keep going, I don’t want this season to fritter out.”

The champions responded well following last week’s 2-1 SPL defeat against Motherwell at Fir Park which had enraged Lennon.

Stand-in Hoops skipper Joe Ledley opened the scoring in the fifth-minute with a header from a James Forrest cross before a mistake by Parkhead left-back Emilio Izaguirre in the 13th minute allowed Buddies striker Esmael Goncalves to level.

However, striker Anthony Stokes restored Celtic’s lead in the 21st minute with a close-range header to ultimately book the visitors a place in today’s draw.

Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian will also be in the hat after a Leigh Griffiths hat-trick against Kilmarnock secured a 4-2 victory.

He said: “It is a good feeling to be in another semi-final but we are just thinking of Hearts to be honest, that’s the next game and I am going to make sure we are prepared for that.

“But I was delighted with the performance today.

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