Lennon delighted to silence Celtic critics
Celtic manager Neil Lennon says his players were desperate to silence their critics after they won a thrilling encounter with Aberdeen 5-2 at Celtic Park.
Scott Brown and Kris Commons both scored a double with Anthony Stokes getting the other as the Hoops gained revenge on Aberdeen, who inflicted on them their only league defeat of the season back in March.
Lennon admitted his players have been unhappy that their achievements in a record-breaking league campaign had been overshadowed by their solitary loss to the Dons.
"There has been a lot of talk about it. We've only lost one game this season but people want to keep reminding me about it and talking about it," the Celtic manager said.
"I suppose the players wanted to put a marker down and they certainly done that today. We want to finish the season off strongly and we're doing that.
"We want to put a marker down to the rest of the teams to show we've got a very good team here and we want to get stronger. I think we have done as the second half of the season has progressed."
Following Aberdeen's win against Celtic in March, coupled with their victory over the Hoops in the Scottish Cup, there had been hopes that the Dons could mount a more serious challenge in the league next season.
However, the Hoops now look on course for the biggest ever winning margin in the top flight of Scottish football, with victory moving them a massive 30 points clear of the Dons in second place.
Despite the defeat Aberdeen have booked their place in the Europa League qualifiers next season and Lennon conceded that Aberdeen had improved under Derek McInnes' tutelage.
"We are 30 points clear so it's not for me to say the gap is closing," Lennon said.
"Aberdeen have certainly improved but I think they had to as there was a malaise there for a long time and Derek has changed that around. He deserves a huge amount of credit for that and with that there will be expectation and pressure next season.
"They should have been challenging a lot earlier. To go 19 seasons without a trophy speaks volumes for their underachievement more than anything else."
- Defensive mistake -
At Celtic Park Hoops skipper Brown opened the scoring in the 25th minute before Niall McGinn capitalised on a defensive mistake to level the scores three minutes later.
Brown restored the lead just before the break and Stokes added a third in the 53rd minute. A tremendous strike from Shaleum Logan reduced the deficit three minutes later but a Commons double put Celtic out of sight.
However, Aberdeen had a decent penalty claim turned down when they were only trailing 3-2 after Jonny Hayes' path to goal was blocked by Efe Ambrose and Dons boss McInnes felt referee Iain Brines' decision was pivotal to the result.
"I think it takes a massive effort and performance from everybody to beat a team of Celtic's quality and we were always in the game today," McInnes said.
"We were disappointed in the first two goals as I thought they were too easy from our point of view but the pivotal moment of the game without question is at 3-2 when we should have had a penalty kick.
"Not only is it a penalty kick but Ambrose is the last man and they would have been down to ten men."
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