Brilliant performance according to Lennon

15 November 2010 06:55
Waiting till the 93rd minute to win a game is not something you want to do every week. Neil Lennon described his Celtic players as "brilliant" after Gary Hooper's dramatic injury-time winner against St Mirren took them back to within a point of the top of the league. The game at New St Mirren Park came alive in the second half but looked to be heading for a draw until the former Scunthorpe striker pounced with seconds remaining of three added minutes to grab his 10th goal since joining in the summer. The winner sparked wild scenes of celebration among the travelling support which owed much to relief but the Celtic boss insisted his side deserved their win and had special praise for skipper Shaun Maloney and midfielder Ki Sung-yueng. Lennon said: "We were brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I wasn't even ranting and raving at half-time. I thought that we could have done a little bit better in the final third but I wouldn't have disappointed to draw the game. You could have held your hands up and said it might not have been our day today but the fact we were creating good chances and they still believed they could win the game. So their attitude and application was tremendous and I thought we got what we deserved today. Sometimes you don't get what you deserve in football, but we did. The substitutes Niall McGinn, Paddy McCourt and Daryl Murphy made a huge impact when they come on. I thought Ki and Maloney were world class today and defensively we were excellent as well." Lennon plans to appeal against the automatic two-game touchline ban he is facing after being sent off by referee Craig Thomson in the 2-0 defeat against Hearts at Tynecastle in midweek. He then claimed he had predicted the manner of the win in Paisley - and the scorer. He went on: "Believe it or not I said at half-time that we might have to go to the 93rd minute to get one goal. I'm not a prophet or anything like that but I've been in that situation many times with Celtic. Hooper was wasn't at his best today in terms of his play in general but he can score goals. I pointed him out half time and said he might nick the win for us. But I don't think we nicked it, I thought we merited it. It was a great reaction from last Wednesday night. It's testament to their character, belief and fitness levels. It was imperative that we didn't lose the game but winning is a huge shot in the arm for us and I felt we deserved it." Ki played in the 4-0 defeat at New St Mirren Park in March which brought former manager Tony Mowbray's time in charge to an end and he was glad to leave Paisley with happier memories this time. The South Korean said: "I was very disappointed in the 4-0 defeat and I was looking for revenge. After that game I didn't play in the first 11 for 10 games. It was a very hard time for me. The manager was changed after the game so I can't forget it. It was very difficult. If we had drawn I would have been disappointed but we won so it's fine." Hooper was glad his last-gasp winner at St Mirren helped his side banish the memories of Wednesday's defeat to Hearts.  Hooper said: "We created too many chances, we kept playing. We bounced back. We kept at it all game and scored at the end with a minute to go. Paddy (McCourt) came on, set it up well, there was a deflection and I got a toe poke. We got the three points which we needed after Hearts and we're back on the board."