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Lennon, and Baird, clear Wilson of blame

NEIL LENNON saluted three pieces of top-class skill from his players and defended Kelvin Wilson against an accusation of elbowing an opponent as Celtic defeated Dundee 2-0 to stretch seven points clear at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League last night.

Lennon hailed the contribution of Hooper, whose brilliant sealed a routine win. Picture: SNS
Lennon hailed the contribution of Hooper, whose brilliant sealed a routine win. Picture: SNS

The match at Dens Park was marked by two brilliant goals from Celtic with an overhead kick from Georgios Samaras in the first half being followed by a sublime finish from Gary Hooper in the second. Celtic, though, were grateful for a superb save by Fraser Forster from a Colin Nish header when the score was 1-0.

Lennon described the goals as "two real bits of quality" but added: "I had to rely on my goalkeeper to make a fantastic save. He is a great keeper. It is another wonderful point-blank save. That could have made it 1-1 and the game could have changed."

Instead, Celtic went further ahead "through a superb individual goal" by Hooper, ensuring a sixth consecutive win by the side.

Lennon defended Wilson against charges of elbowing John Baird in the first half. Televison pictures showed contact between the players but Lennon said: "Kelvin is saying the guy was holding his arm and he pushed his arm away. The boy was nipping away at the players all night, barging into them."

No action was taken by referee Iain Brines and Lennon said: "If it does look bad, it is not deliberate."

Baird had no complaints.

"To be fair, I have tried to pull him back, to try to get an extra yard on him. He has caught me but I think it was accidental. He was trying to get his arm out of the road," said the Dundee forward.

Asked why he was so animated at the time of the incident, he said: "I thought I had lost my teeth."

He believed the SFA compliance officer should not look at the incident, saying: "It is not going to change anything. It was just one of these things."

Scott Brown, the Celtic captain, said the goal by Hooper and save by Forster showed both were capable of playing for England, describing the finish by the striker as "ridiculous".

He said he was now looking forward to the chance of a rest with the winter break coming after matches against Hibernian and Motherwell.

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