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Page last updated at 09:49 GMT, Monday, 3 January 2011

Strachan backed Georgios Samaras to star - Neil Lennon

Georgios Samaras tucks  in the opening goal at Ibrox
Samaras scored both goals in Celtic's 2-0 win at Ibrox

Neil Lennon's inspired decision to play match-winner Georgios Samaras against Rangers was confirmed after a chat with former Celtic boss Gordon Strachan.

Samaras, not a regular starter, struck twice as Celtic opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

"I spoke to Gordon about that lone-striker's role, Samaras can do that and it was something we have been working on," revealed the manager.

"We were very resilient, we dominated and I thought Samaras was unplayable."

Samaras capped an impressive Sunday afternoon by opening the scoring in the 61st minute and then clinching the victory from the penalty spot after he had been felled by Madjid Bougherra.

Enthusing about the Greek international's performance, Lennon added: "I have seen him play in World Cups and do that and we felt we would leave him up there to do it.

"He pulls himself off the two centre halves which isn't an easy thing to do.

Hopefully in the next couple of days or weeks, we will find a solution and keep going together

Georgios Samaras

"His movement and composure for the first goal was great and although he got a lot of confidence from the way he started the game, he got a huge lift from the goal."

Samaras, who had not scored in the league this season until his Ibrox double, is out of contract at the end of the season.

However, Lennon, beaming in the afterglow of his second Old Firm win from three attempts, made it clear he would like to keep the striker.

"We know he is capable of doing that," he said. "We know he has fantastic attributes, we just need to find that consistency and maybe that role suits him best.

"But I think he has done himself no harm today regarding a new contract."

Samaras admitted he would be happy to accept a new deal at the club he joined in 2008 - and continue as a lone striker.

Highlights - Rangers 0-2 Celtic

Highlights - Rangers 0-2 Celtic

"I want to stay," said the 25-year-old. "If the manager has said he wants me to stay then hopefully in the next couple of days or weeks, we will find a solution and keep going together.

"That is my position, the one I like to play and it was a nice feeling to score my first goal at Ibrox.

"My team-mates and me worked really hard and in the second half we were much better than Rangers and deserved to win the game.

"Everyone would have enjoyed that, the manager, me, my team mates, the supporters, it's a great win for us and we must continue in the same way.

"It is important that we are still first in the league. I know Rangers have two games in hand but it is good that we are in first place.

"We know that until the end of May we will fight with Rangers for the SPL trophy.

"But we are in good shape and we hope that we stay there."

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see also
Lennon hails 'unplayable' Samaras
02 Jan 11 |  Celtic
Rangers 0-2 Celtic
02 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier
Old Firm photo gallery
02 Jan 11 |  Scottish Premier

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