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Celtic manager Lennon hails’ ‘massive win’ over Aberdeen

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Neil Lennon praised his side’s character following a battling 2-1 win away to Aberdeen at a windswept Pittodrie on Sunday that saw his reigning champions close in on a ninth successive Scottish championship.

The Hoops took an early lead through Callum McGregor’s 10th-minute goal but the Dons were level well before half-time thanks to an equaliser from Ash Taylor.

Celtic did not have things all in their own way in a match played in the fall-out from Storm Dennis and they had to wait until nine minutes from time for Kristoff Ajer’s winning goal. 

Victory left runaway Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic a huge 13 points ahead of arch-rivals Rangers before their fellow Glasgow giants face Livingston later in the day.

“I’m thrilled,” said Northern Irish boss Lennon. “It’s a massive win in treacherously difficult conditions to play football. All credit to the players who dug out a marvellous result for us.

The former Celtic midfielder added: “You can’t always play slick, quick football and we had to grind it out today (Sunday). 

“We didn’t want to drop points obviously, but it was perhaps looking like we would. A point a Pittodrie is sometimes a decent result and in these conditions the game could have gone either way.

“We’ve a bit of character and resilience,” Lennon said. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, there’s a lot of football yet to play but in the context of the run that we’re on it’s a big win.”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes reckoned the hosts were the better side on the day.

“When you play against a team like Celtic with so many good players, it has to start in the head with the mindset to make the game go our way,” he said.

“I thought we were the better team, and we spoke at half-time about the mentality of the Celtic players and how they wouldn’t accept not winning, and we asked our players to go out with the same mindset.”

McInnes, whose side could be at least 20 points adrift of the top two if Rangers avoid defeat on Sunday, added: “It was exactly how my team needed to play against a good Celtic team and I felt the performance merited something from the game — but you don’t get points for a performance.”

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