Lennon praise for Celtic spirit

 

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The Independent Online

Neil Lennon's remarkable transformation of Celtic's fortunes continued with a 10th straight win via a run-of-the-mill victory over Dunfermline. It maintains their two-point advantage over Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

Lennon had stressed to his players the need to keep their focus after the Old Firm triumph last week that had taken them to the summit. "The team was great, and there were some very good individual performances," he said. "But to come away and win so well on the back of Wednesday, I was delighted."

Charlie Mulgrew set up two of the goals in a 3-0 win at East End Park either side of curling in a free-kick from distance. Mulgrew's cross broke to Anthony Stokes, who created space and finished smartly through a crowd of players for the first after 18 minutes. Mulgrew doubled the advantage midway through the second half before Victor Wanyama volleyed home in the closing stages.

Celtic's sense of wellbeing was increased by the successful return from injury of Emilio Izaguirre. The highly rated Honduran defender, whose progress has been monitored south of the border, came off the bench for a first appearance since breaking his ankle against Aberdeen in August.

Rangers may have rid themselves of some of the on-field frustration of last week's derby defeat with a 3-0 defeat of Motherwell at Ibrox but the mood around the club is unlikely to have been improved by the increasing likelihood that they will have to continue their pursuit of Celtic without Nikica Jelavic. The Croatian striker missed the game with a groin injury and may have played his last match in Glasgow. Yesterday Rangers also saw Kyle Lafferty, who played up front with David Healy in Jelavic's absence, carried off. "It's is a big, big blow," said McCoist. Lafferty faces a month out.

Rangers' worsening financial plight makes Jelavic's departure probable after the West Bromwich Albion manager, Roy Hodgson, admitted his club are among a number of suitors for a player who has scored 33 times in 51 games for the Ibrox side since arriving from Rapid Vienna for £4m in August 2010. QPR have also been suggested as a possible destination. Rangers rejected a £6.5m bid from Leicester City in the summer but their need to bring funds into the club has since increased.

In the Edinburgh derby, Heart of Midlothian, whose financial situation is even grimmer, beat Hibernian 3-1 at Easter Road to close the gap on third-placed Motherwell to two points.

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