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Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Sunday, 2 January 2011

Celtic's Neil Lennon hails unplayable Georgios Samaras

Neil Lennon celebrates with Georgios Samaras
Lennon had restored Samaras to the starting line-up at Ibrox

Celtic manager Neil Lennon described Georgios Samaras as "unplayable" after the Greek striker scored both goals in the 2-0 victory over Rangers at Ibrox.

"Samaras was a constant menace," said Lennon. "He was top drawer.

"I thought he was a real handful. I thought he was unplayable from Rangers' point of view."

Lennon is in his first full season as Celtic manager and he added: "This tops the lot to come here to play the champions and win convincingly."

The win stretched Celtic's lead in the Scottish Premier League over their city rivals, although Rangers have played fewer games because of recent wintry weather postponements.

"That's four points and it's a decent wee lead at the minute," stated Lennon. "I know Rangers have two games in hand but they are both away and they have some hard games coming up.

In the second half, we were much, much better than Rangers

Celtic striker Georgios Samaras

"But there's a lot of football to be played. Even if we had lost, I still wouldn't have said the league was over but the fact we have won gives us a real chance.

"I hope it is a turning point but you never can tell. In the end, I don't think Rangers caused us any problems whatsoever."

Celtic had gone into the game without suspended captain Scott Brown, new signing Freddie Ljungberg and several other first-team regulars.

"It was a great performance considering I had nine out," said Lennon.

"I think, once we got over the initial flurry of pressure, the two midfield boys got a grip of the game.

"I thought the back four were magnificent all through the game and Samaras showed what he can do on any given day."

Lennon also praised Baram Kayal, who has had a long spell out through injury, and Charlie Mulgrew for their midfield roles after being recalled to the starting line-up.

"They had one off the line early on but then my goalkeeper did not have much to do after that," he commented.

"People have been saying about myself and the team that we don't win the big games but we have done that today. You don't get much bigger than that.

"On the back of the three home draws, it was vital that we won."

Samaras had been preferred to Anthony Stokes, who dropped to the bench, but the Greek striker did not see his two goals as making a point to the manager for being left on the bench previously.

"The manager knows exactly what I can do and my qualities," said Samaras. "I feel really good myself that I scored two goals but the most important thing is the team and we are back on track.

"I think it was a great performance from all the team. I think the players worked really hard and I think in the end the best team won the game.

"In the second half, we were much, much better than Rangers."

Even so, Samaras said he thinks the title race will go down to the closing moments of the season.

He stated: "We have three wins in a row but Rangers are a really good team and, until the end of the season, it will be really tight if we are to win the SPL trophy."

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see also
Rangers 0-2 Celtic
02 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Old Firm photo gallery
02 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier

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