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Monday 17 December 2018

Lennon's joy as Stokes nets two

Anthony Stokes had the last laugh on Daryl Murphy by scoring from the penalty spot and laying claim to the post of resident penalty taker as Celtic demolished Inverness Caledonian Thistle 6-0 in the Co-operative Cup.

The former Hibs striker helped himself to two goals -- his first at Parkhead in Celtic colours -- with the first goal coming from the penalty spot in the 74th minute.

Stokes was pushed aside from taking a penalty at Kilmarnock on Sunday by the Waterford man but, with Murphy sitting in the stand last night, Stokes grabbed the ball and smashed his penalty past Jonny Tuffney in the Inverness goal.

Reign

For good measure, Stokes then blasted home a 25-yarder as Neil Lennon's side went someway towards avenging the infamous defeat from the Highland club in 2000 that ended John Barnes' reign as Celtic manager.

Gary Hooper was brought in to replace the rested Murphy and scored with a great instinctive strike in the 21st minute, while Georgios Samaras also helped himself to a hat-trick.

"I feel that that sort of scoreline has been coming," Lennon said after the game. "We've been making chances in games and not putting them away.

"I'm delighted that all of our strikers have got off to a decent start in their Celtic careers. We're not getting carried away or complacent, the players know that the competition is very high but they are all applying themselves the right way. They'll be a handful for a lot of teams.

"I was very pleased with the front players tonight, the six goals sends out a message that we have goalscorers in the team and I'm pretty happy with the clean sheet as well.

"We've got good options in attack and in midfield, there wasn't a poor performance out there. The attitude and application was good.

"Our confidence has been good, the level of performance has been good, but the difference tonight was that we put our chances away. We've been creating a lot of chances recently."

Samaras redirected a shot from Joe Ledley into the net from close range in the 17th minute and Hooper netted four minutes later.

Jonny Hayes almost pulled a goal back for Inverness on the half hour but Fraser Forster blocked with his legs. But Samaras put Celtic three up before the break with a shot that was helped into the net by David Proctor.



Tumbling

The Greek striker completed his hat-trick in the 57th minute and Stokes struck when he was sent tumbling in the box in the 74th minute by Tuffney.

Stokes drilled his penalty into the net before he completed the Celtic scoring with a dipping 25-yard effort into the postage stamp corner of the net.

"Some of the football was fantastic," Lennon added. "There were some exceptional performances.

"To score six goals at any stage of the season against any opposition is very pleasing for us.

"I'm pleased with the squad, it's developing nicely. We've got a bit of pace in the team, and we've got plenty of players to come back."

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