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Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Saturday, 11 September 2010 19:00 UK

Celtic's Neil Lennon plays down Hearts' offside claims

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Lennon hailed his side after their 3-0 win over Hearts

Celtic manager Neil Lennon dismissed suggestions that two of his side's goals were offside and suggested they were cutting Hearts open at will.

"I thought Murph was fine," he said of Daryl Murphy's role in the opening goal in Celtic's 3-0 victory in Glasgow.

"As for the second goal, I wasn't sure about that, but we cut them open at will at times.

"My criticism is we are not clinical in front of goal. At 2-0, we could not relax until the third one went in."

The win maintained Lennon's 100% league record with Celtic since taking over as manager last season and his side top the Scottish Premier League on goal difference from reigning champions Rangers.

"You never envisage winning 12 games in a row," he told BBC Scotland. "But you are always one game away from people turning and saying he is a rookie manager and does not know what he is doing.

"I've just got to get results and keep pushing Rangers because they keep winning games as well.

"It was important we won today to maintain that form."

Lennon thought his side started sluggishly, but he was generally delighted and picked out forward Shaun Maloney, winger Paddy McCourt, left-back Emilio Izaguirre and goalkeeper Fraser Forster for special mention.

McCourt weaved his way through Hearts' defence to score the third late on after James Forrest and Maloney hit the net in the first half.

"It took us an age to get going in the game, probably because we had been away for a two-week break and Hearts are a decent side," said Lennon.

"Hearts had a good penalty claim at one stage in the game, so you are never comfortable.

"We rode our luck a wee bit with the one that hit the post, but I always felt we could cut them open.

"We just needed to get a hold of the ball and pass the ball better and, once we had done that, we looked a real threat.

"But again, a fantastic piece of individual brilliance from Paddy."

Anthony Stokes was making his debut for Celtic since arriving from Hibernian and Lennon liked what he saw from the striker.

"I got the impression he was trying a little too hard in the first half," he said.

"We just re-jigged it a wee bit. I wanted to get Shaun playing just off Murph and, once we did that, it worked a lot better.

"He was good and was always a threat. We like his style and he will fit in well."

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see also
Celtic 3-0 Hearts
11 Sep 10 |  Scottish Premier

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