Hooper's praises Sung

Ki SUNG-YUENG hailed Gary Hooper as a "goal machine" after the Celtic striker scored a dramatic last-gasp winner at St Mirren yesterday with his tenth strike of the season.

Neil Lennon's side looked to be dropping two vital points when Hooper, who arrived at Parkhead in the summer from Scunthorpe for a reported fee of around 2.4?million, pounced with seconds remaining of three minutes added time to keep the visitors a point behind Rangers at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

South Korea internationalist Ki, whose performance was described by Lennon as "world class", acknowledged the importance of his English team-mate. "Gary is brilliant," he said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I think he is a goal machine and has scored in the 90th minute two or three times.

"It is hard to explain but he is a very good striker and he is the type of player you need to win the league.

"We need goals and the goal difference could be very important at the end of the season."

Ki played in the 4-0 defeat at St Mirren Park in March which effectively ended the tenure of former manager Tony Mowbray and he was glad to leave Paisley with happier memories this time.

"I was very disappointed in the 4-0 defeat and I was looking for revenge," he said. "After that defeat I didn't play in the first team for ten games. It was a very hard time for me.

"The manager was changed after the game so I can't forget it. If we had drawn I would have been disappointed but we won so it's fine."

Neil Lennon, who will appeal against the automatic two-match touchline ban he is facing after being sent off by referee Craig Thomson in the 2-0 defeat against Hearts at Tynecastle last Wednesday, held nothing back in describing his Celtic players after Hooper's dramatic winner.

"We were brilliant," he said. "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 been disappointed to draw the game.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"You could have held your hands up and said it might not have been our day but the fact was we were creating good chances and still believed we could win the game.

"So the players' attitude and application was tremendous and I thought we got what we deserved. 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 and defensively we were excellent as well."

St Mirren boss Danny Lennon remains happy with the progress the Paisley club have made since he took over in the summer, despite his players learning an Old Firm lesson.

He said: "Rangers and Celtic never give in, a game for them lasts from the first to the 93rd minute. However, to lose a match in the final minute is very disappointing no matter who the opposition is, but I feel we are now looking a very difficult side to beat. We limited them and when they did get through we got good blocks in."