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Lennon hails Celtic after five-goal demolition

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Leigh Griffiths grabbed his first hat-trick in four years. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Leigh Griffiths grabbed his first hat-trick in four years. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

PA

Leigh Griffiths grabbed his first hat-trick in four years. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Neil Lennon paid tribute to his free-scoring Celtic side after they thrashed St Mirren 5-0 at Parkhead on Saturday.

Leigh Griffiths grabbed his first hat-trick in four years to confirm his rehabilitation from a season disrupted by personal problems and injury, with strike partner Odsonne Edouard driving in his 28th of the campaign and midfielder Callum McGregor taking his tally for the season to 13 with a late penalty.

The champions have scored 89 goals and conceded 19 after 30 Scottish Premiership games and next is a trip to Ibrox to face Rangers next Sunday where Lennon will be happy to take a plus-70 goal difference.

Celtic scored 77 goals in winning their eighth successive title last season with a goal difference of 57 and Lennon, who took over from Brendan Rodgers just over a year ago, analysed the statistics to date.

He said: "Wow. I am delighted with that.

"Looking at it when I came in, I thought we could up the tempo and play forward a little bit more.

"We certainly have the players who could score goals. That is something that me and my backroom team worked on at the start of the season.

"It is alright working on it, players have to go out and do it and they have done it magnificently well so far."

Another boost for Lennon was the return of Hatem Abd Elhamed for the first time since November.

The 28-year-old Israel defender, who signed from Hapoel Be'er Sheva on a four-year contract in July 2019, suffered a groin injury in the 2-1 win over Lazio in Rome.

He was well received by the home supporters when he replaced Kristoffer Ajer in the 81st minute and won the penalty when he was tripped in the area by Saints captain Sam Foley.

Lennon said: "I am delighted. He got a nice ovation when he came on and he contributed to the penalty.

"It has been a long time for him so to get some minutes on the pitch was good for him."

St Mirren dropped to second bottom of the table, three points ahead of Hearts, who they play on Wednesday night.

"I would be lying if I said that Wednesday night wasn't more important than Saturday," said Buddies boss Jim Goodwin.

"Games against the Old Firm is not how our season will be defined.

"Hearts on Wednesday night, it's Kilmarnock, it's Ross County and those games after the split that are the most important ones.

"Rangers at home, as well, is one where we believe we could potentially pick something up and that is the way we have to go into games."