Hooper puts Celtic in pole position

Celtic 3 Rangers 0
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The Independent Football

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is not counting any chickens in the Premier League title race despite cruising to an Old Firm derby victory here yesterday that took his side eight points clear of the defending champions, who have two games in hand.

After seeing a first-half double from Gary Hooper and a 70th-minute clincher by Kris Commons, Lennon said: "Other people might say it was a pivotal day. We are very pleased, we are more than pleased, because that was emphatic, [but] there are still 12 or 13 games to go in the season. In 2005, we had six or seven games left and still lost the League. It's going to get a bit more fraught and tense between now and the end of the season and I'm hoping we have the mentality to handle that."

However, Lennon was thrilled to have made the title Celtic's to lose now. He added: "It was a wonderful performance and the team did everything we asked of them. I couldn't be happier with them. It was a real acid test, as people were calling it before the game. Could this team get over the line? They answered all the questions today.

"Today will give the players a huge lift, a huge shot in the arm, because Rangers are a good team, a strong team, but we played very well."

Celtic Forster; Wilson, Majstorovic, Mulgrew, Izaguirre, Brown, Kayal (Ki, 60), Ledley, Commons (Forrest, 82), Samaras, Hooper (Stokes, 85).

Substitutes not used Zaluska, Juarez, McCourt, Rogne.

Booked Kayal.

Rangers McGregor; Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Papac, Davis, Diouf (Healy, 68), Bartley, Edu, Naismith (Lafferty, h-t), Jelavic.

Substitutes not used Alexander, Fleck, Foster, Weiss, Hutton.

Booked Bartley, Diouf, Bougherra, Lafferty, Weir.

Possession Celtic 60%, Rangers 40%

Shots on target Celtic 6, Rangers 2

Man of the match Hooper

Referee I Brines (Scotland).

Attendance 58,748