herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Ibrox win to silence Celt critics -- Lennon

Neil Lennon is confident that his players will silence the critics by beating Rangers at Ibrox in a match that could clinch the title.

If Motherwell fail to win away to Kilmarnock tomorrow, a win for Celtic over Rangers will see Lennon's side leave Ibrox as the SPL champions.

Ever since losing a Scottish Cup semi-final to Ross County almost two years ago, Lennon has had to listen to claims that his team couldn't handle the big occasions.

Twenty five domestic wins and a draw out of their last 26 matches looked like putting that theory to bed but last week's 1-0 League Cup Final defeat by Kilmarnock has given the accusation fresh life.

Winning the SPL title at Ibrox would finally kill off that claim, with Lennon in no doubt about the mentality and attitude of his players who have turned a 15-point deficit in November into a 21-point advantage over Rangers.

"It's complete nonsense to suggest that the team can't handle big matches," Lennon said. "They've played the best football in Scotland, they've rampaged through the league for the last four or five months.

"Runs come to an end. We lost a match on Sunday, the first time in 27 games, there was a lot of bottle on that run when we were up against Rangers, Hearts, Dundee United, and came through it with flying colours.

"The players came up short. That's football, sometimes it happens in a one-off game.

"No one should forget the run that they were on before the Kilmarnock match. I've taken a step back to look at that match from a less passionate and emotional view. I watched the game again and can't criticise the players.

"We created plenty of chances, the only criticism is that we didn't score a goal. Their goalkeeper got man-of-the-match, which says a lot about our performance.

"We've got a lot to play for, there will be a determination to see the league through and go and win the Scottish Cup."

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