Neil Lennon hails ‘massive’ Celtic win in awful conditions at Aberdeen

Neil Lennon hailed the “solidarity” shown by his Celtic players to secure victory against Aberdeen in what he felt was the toughest test the champions have faced this season.

Manager Neil Lennon is jubilant as the final whistle sounds on Celtic's 2-1 victory at Pittodrie.
Manager Neil Lennon is jubilant as the final whistle sounds on Celtic's 2-1 victory at Pittodrie.

Celtic manager Lennon celebrated in exuberant fashion at the full-time whistle as he savoured a result which ensured his team maintained a commanding position in the title race.

“I’m thrilled,” said Lennon. “It was a massive win in treacherously difficult conditions to play football. All credit goes to the players who dug out a marvellous result for us. You can’t always play slick, quick football. We had to grind it out today.

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“That’s exactly what I want from my team. It’s not always about painting pretty pictures all the time. Sometimes you have to dig in.

“That was the hardest game I’ve had by a considerable way. Conditions were awful and we were playing against a very good side. It’s a magnificent three points for us.

“It’s a good sign (to win when not at your best). We’ve got a bit of character and resilience. They are a team, there is good solidarity within them. They keep going. Their fitness levels are good as well.

“We are not getting ahead of ourselves, there is a lot of football still to play. But in the context of the run we are on, it’s a big win.

“I just wanted to keep the run going today. I wanted to appreciate the fans at the end, for making a long trek early in horrible conditions. I appreciate everything they bring to us, especially the away fans. They were magnificent today.

“Even at 1-1 when the game could have gone either way, our fans were making a lot of noise. So my celebration was just appreciation of them.”

Lennon admitted he felt Celtic may have to settle for a point but he also remained hopeful that the change of shape he made in the second half, switching from his recently favoured 3-5-2 to a flat back four, would give them the opportunity to grab a winner.

“You are thinking maybe it will be a draw and a point away at a tough place wouldn’t be bad,” he said. “But you are always thinking of trying to get a goal with the subs we brought on. Your Tom Rogics and Ryan Christies are the ones who can create something.

“I took Leigh Griffiths off because he was on a booking and also because we wanted to change the shape. The change of system worked quite well for us. We started creating opportunities. Jonny Hayes had a great chance, then we score and then Odsonne Edouard has a great chance. So the change definitely helped the players.

“For the winning goal, James Forrest has opened the pitch right up and then the pass is perfectly weighted. Big Kris, of all people, timed his run to perfection and showed a lot of composure to finish it off.

“It was a great goal and an important goal. We didn’t want to drop points but it was looking like it. A point at Pittodrie can sometimes be a decent result. In these conditions the game could have gone either way but we have come up with a really important piece of football.”

Celtic will assess the hamstring strain which forced Greg Taylor to limp off in the first half but Lennon is hopeful the left-back will be okay for Thursday’s Europa League match at Copenhagen.