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Lennon optimistic after Celtic rout St Mirren
Published : 27 Nov 2011 01:17:03
Celtic manager Neil Lennon says all the ingredients are in place for his team to go on a good run at home and in Europe after watching his side demolish St Mirren 5-0 at Parkhead on Saturday.
Georgios Samaras made the most of a rare start to open the scoring in the fourth minute before Hooper tapped in the second four minutes later.
The English striker lashed home the third in the 53rd minute before he completed his treble just four minutes later when he dinked the ball over Craig Samson.
Youngster Dylan McGeouch then wrapped up the scoring with a superb solo strike after going on an 80-yard lung-busting run.
It moves Celtic to within four points of league leaders Rangers, who at one time held a 13 point advantage over their rivals at the top.
And Lennon says his side, who face Atletico Madrid at Celtic Park on Wednesday as they battle to qualify from Europa League Group I, are gaining momentum at the right time after winning their fifth game in a row.
"We are in good form and we've got a good game to look forward to now on Wednesday as well," the Celtic manager said.
"I think it's a game that we can't afford to lose. A draw might not be enough but if we win it puts us in a great position.
"Now they have got into the habit of games and that will give the whole squad a real shot in the arm because the 14 players who were on the pitch against St Mirren were sensational.
"It can turn very quickly again but we've picked up five wins in a row. I didn't think there was major surgery needed or a major panic on but the bigger the gap got the more you were scratching away.
"If Rangers win against Kilmarnock on Sunday it is seven points again and it is still a substantial lead but what's pleasing me know is we are finding our form.
"People like Beram Kayal, Victor Wanyama, Joe Ledley and Daniel Majstorovic are playing very well consistently now and my strikers are scoring goals so all the ingredients are there for a good run."
Another pleasing aspect for Lennon was the home debut of youngster McGeouch.
The 18-year-old made only his second appearance for the Hoops as a 65th minute substitute and it took him just seven minutes to get on the score sheet with a wonder goal.
And Lennon was delighted after he personally intervened earlier this year to bring the attacking midfielder back to the club he started at as a boy after a three-year spell with Glasgow rivals Rangers.
"I went to see his parents and there were about 400,000 people outside the house wanting to sign him so it was interesting," the Celtic boss joked.
"He's a great kid. He's not short of confidence but he's very hard working. He goes and practices in the afternoon as he just loves playing football.
"We will have to keep his feet on the ground in the next couple of days as I'm sure he will be full of the joys of spring.
"I think we will have to pay a bit of compensation for him but we're very pleased he wanted to come back and play here.
"He missed pre-season with a metatarsal injury so it has been a wee bit of a slow burn for him this season.
"But in the last couple of months in the youth team and training with the first team he has started to show the quality he has.
"It was a wonderful goal and he might not get a better goal in his career than that but it was a great way to start his Celtic career."