Hibs win ‘annoys’ Lennon

Neil Lennon was both delighted and annoyed after his Hibernian team defeated Celtic 2-0 at Easter Road on Sunday.

The Edinburgh side have allowed a good start to the season slip way with a poor couple of months, seeing them drop to eighth in the Scottish Premiership table.

The home side made the perfect start when Vykintas Slivka struck after 46 seconds with a cool finish inside the box.

Celtic were poor in the opening half and Florian Kamberi finished a superb second-half counter attack with an emphatic finish to give Hibs the daylight they required, making it back-to-back home league wins over Brendan Rodgers' side.

Lennon was delighted to see off his old team, but also somewhat frustrated that his team haven't matched that level of performance recently.

"I'm delighted, considering the circumstances and the lack of depth we had in the squad, it's a remarkable performance really," the Hibs boss told Sky Sports.

"It annoy me, when I consider some of the games we have played in the last couple of months, and then we go and produce a performance like that. Two weeks ago against Kilmarnock we were pathetic and then today we beat the champions, and we deserved to beat them as well."

Hibs host Rangers in Leith in midweek and Lennon is challenging his players to show the same form against Steven Gerrard's outfit.

"We've got another big game now on Wednesday night, we're not jumping through hoops at the minute," he added.

"We're starting to look like the team we can be again. But you can't save your performances for the big games. You've got to do it week in, week out. It gets us back in the mix now for top-six, which pleases me going into the New Year.

"We've got to build on the last two performances, because they've been excellent."

Hibs are 5/2 to beat Rangers on Wednesday. The Light Blues are 1/1 with the draw priced at 13/5.

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Lennon looks at the positives

Hibernian boss Neil Lennon admits that it would be unwise to be too gung-ho when his team welcome Celtic to Easter Road on Sunday.

Hibs are eighth in the Scottish Premiership table heading into the match while Celtic are two points clear of second-placed Rangers and have qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League.

Lennon's team lost 4-2 at Celtic Park in October and the Hibs boss is keen to adopt a more cautious approach against the Glasgow giants this weekend.

Hibs have a lengthy injury list, but former Bhoys boss Lennon said: "We're a little bit bare in terms of numbers and it is a formidable task. Celtic have done well to qualify from their Europa League group and it will have given them a huge boost.

"But we're not going into it negatively. We scored two goals at Celtic Park and not too many other teams do that. We know we're capable of scoring. So are they and their mentality is very good.

"You can't go too gung-ho. Celtic were excellent in the first half against us at Celtic Park. It could have been more than 2-0 at half-time so you do have to be mindful of that but we know we're capable of causing them problems."

Hibs are 5/1 to win Sunday's match while Celtic are currently available at 1/12 to win the Scottish Premiership title once again this season.

Clarke cautious despite top spot

Steve Clarke has played down the importance of his Kilmarnock side having taken top spot in the Scottish Premiership by virtue of a 2-0 win over Livingston.

Greg Stewart scored both goals as Killie took the honours at Rugby Park on Wednesday evening, which meant that they took over at the top as both Celtic and Rangers slipped up.

However, Clarke refused to get carried away by such a lofty position, especially with a meeting with Celtic next on the agenda on Saturday.

He told reporters after the win over Livi: "Listen, it's nice for the supporters – they'll have enjoyed the night and looking at the league table, but for us it's just another three points.

"(The players will) look at the table and realise that if you work hard and are a good group of players you'll pick up points in this league.

"And if you pick up enough points then sometimes you get quite close to the summit, but there's nobody getting carried away. We've got an awful lot of work to do.

"At the end of the season we can tally up the points and see who's where and decide if it's been a good season or not.

"But, in December it's difficult to do that as there are so many games to come."

Killie are 10/1 to top the Scottish Premiership this season if Celtic are excluded, with the Rugby Park outfit 25/1 to lift the Scottish FA Cup, having last done so in 1997.

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Killie’s form thrills Clarke

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke thought his side could easily have beaten Hibernian more convincingly at Rugby Park on Saturday.

Eamonn Brophy scored twice and, after the match was interrupted twice because of floodlight failures, Greg Stewart made it 3-0.

The victory leaves Killie second in the Scottish Premiership table and they are 21/20 to win their next match against Livingston on Wednesday.

Hibs are winless in six games and are eighth before their midweek meeting with second-bottom St Mirren, a match Neil Lennon's team are 2/5 to win.

Clarke said after his side's comprehensive victory: "I thought we were good, especially in the first half. Neil Lennon came with a little bit of a different side but we got the early goal and that was crucial.

"In the second half, we invited them on a little bit. If we had been a little bit more clinical we could have had a bigger scoreline."

Kilmarnock have only lost three of their 15 first league fixtures of the campaign and are one point behind leaders Celtic, who have two games in hand.

Meanwhile, Dundee remain rooted to the foot of the table with just one victory and five points from their first 14 matches this season.

Solid Dons please McInnes

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes was pleased with the way his players dealt with the appalling weather conditions in Friday's 1-0 win against Hibernian.

Gary Mackay-Steven scored the only goal of the Pittodrie clash as the Dons won their sixth match of the campaign and third in a row.

In contrast Neil Lennon's team are now winless in their last four league games.

McInnes said of match-winner Mackay-Steven: "I've not been too pleased with his recent performances. We spoke about him working hard when he's not involved and it's not going his way."

Mackay-Steven has represented Scotland on two occasions and will join up with the Alex McLeish's squad on Sunday for the Nations League qualifiers against Albania and Israel. Scotland are 13/8 to beat Albania next weekend.

Meanwhile, McInnes said of his team's narrow victory: "It was always going to be a tough game in those conditions.

"Each game is different, and conditions can be different, but the importance of winning the game was clear from my team.

"I thought we were very competitive throughout and our work-rate and industry at the top end of the pitch allowed us to unsettle Hibs and they never really got into any real rhythm, which is something that, when they do, they are a very good side."

Rodgers hails triumphant Celtic

Brendan Rodgers says Celtic's 2-1 win over RB Leipzig in the Europa League was their best European performance since he took charge.

The Bhoys welcomed the German outfit to Celtic Park needing a win to stay in the fight for qualification from Group B having lost the reverse fixture to the Bundesliga side a fortnight ago.

They duly delivered the three points needed to stay in the hunt for a last-32 spot, Kieran Tierney and Odsonne Edouard finding the back of the net on another special European night for the Hoops.

With RB Leipzig having been on a 10-match unbeaten run coming into the clash, Rodgers felt it was their best performance on home soil during his two-year tenure.

"Tonight was a great step forward for these players because, at 1-1, when Leipzig didn't deserve to be level in the game, they responded straight away and had that belief to play forward and get that fantastic winning goal," Rodgers said.

"This was a pressure game that we had to win, but you see the positivity of the team.

"We showed no fear, had plenty of aggression and brought our identity to the game."

Rodgers' men are now level on points with RB Leipzig but remain third in the group due to the German's having the advantage in the head-to-head record with Celtic.

The Hoops travel to Norway in their next Europa League match to face a Rosenborg side who have lost four out for matches thus far.

Before then, the reigning Scottish Premiership champions face Livingston in the league.

Celtic are 1/5 to win that clash, with Livingston 12/1 and the draw 11/2.

Gerrard aims to ignite crowd

Steven Gerrard said that he wants his Rangers team to take the fans with them as they seek to continue their good form in Europe.

The Rangers boss, in his first season at Ibrox, has guided him team to the top of their Europa League group with a win and a draw from their first two games in the competition.

Their last performance in Europe was a 3-1 home win over Rapid Vienna and, with Spartak Moscow the visitors on Thursday night, Gerrard wants more of the same with the fans playing their part.

The Rangers boss said: "I'd like us to really take the game to the opposition. We need to ignite the crowd like we did in the previous game.

"We believe that if we play on the front foot, if we are aggressive and take the fans with us then we are a tough team to play against here.

"You try to put yourself in the shoes of the opposition manager. If your first game in charge is away at Ibrox, and if we're at it with the crowd behind us, then that is a tricky game for your first match in charge. We need to make sure we don't disappoint."

Gerrard was referring to the fact that former fitness coach Raul Riancho will be in the opposition dugout on Thursday after manager Massimo Carrera lost his job on Monday.

The Rangers boss however said the upheaval at Spartak Moscow wouldn't affect his own team's preparations for a game against "a big team with Champions League experience".

Rangers are 5/4 to win Thursday's game with the Russian side 23/10 and the draw 13/5.

Gerrard will have Kyle Lafferty back available after missing the win over Hamilton at the weekend while Ryan Jack also comes into contention for the game.

Graham Dorrans is 13/5 to score at any time in the game while Rangers are 150/1 to win the Europa League this season.

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Gerrard looking for major money

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has warned potential suitors that they will have to splash major cash if they want to take any of his stars away from Ibrox.

Former Liverpool great Gerrard has made a decent start to his managerial career with the Gers, with his side currently in sixth place in the Scottish Premiership standings, just five points behind leaders Hearts.

And a number of his players have been linked with possible interest from elsewhere, especially wing-back James Tavernier, who has impressed after being named as captain by Gerrard.

However Gerrard is adamant that no-one will be leaving on the cheap, telling reporters after a 3-1 home win over Hearts: "They best go to the bank and get an awful lot of money out, or he (Tavernier) is not going.

"I would be surprised if teams don't come (in for Tavernier) because he's been absolutely fabulous for me.

"Every player has their price, but if the price is not right then he does not go anywhere. All my players are for sale, let's get it out in the open. Every single one of my players is for sale, they have all got a price.

"But they are not the old prices, it's the new prices. So if you want them, then come with loads of money and you can have them."

The Gers can be backed at 4/1 to win the SPFL title this season, with Celtic available at 1/4 and Hearts 20/1.

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Hearts ‘ready’ for Rangers challenge

Table-topping Hearts are "ready and capable of getting points" in Sunday's visit to Rangers, according to manager Craig Levein.

Hearts, two points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership, are unbeaten in 13 games this term and have already defeated champions Celtic at Tynecastle.

They lead the way from Edinburgh neighbours Hibernian in second spot, with Glasgow rivals Celtic and Rangers down in fifth and seventh places respectively.

Steven Gerrard is helping Rangers turn Ibrox into an intimidating place to play once more. Thursday's 3-1 Europa League win over Rapid Vienna was Rangers eighth win from nine home matches this season, with the other a draw.

Hearts are 15/4 to win in Govan and the draw is priced at 3/1, while Rangers are 13/20 to win the game.

Levein feels his side, with six wins and a draw in the league and only three goals against so far, are ready for the test in front of them.

"I feel we are ready and capable of going through to Glasgow and getting points," Levein said.

"I think it will be a great game.

"We have faced a number of tests [so far], some of them when we have been strong favourites and some when we have not been.

"The pleasing thing for me is that everything that has been presented to us we have managed to deal with. I'm hopeful we can do the same again on Sunday."

The Jambos drew 0-0 on their first visit to Ibrox last season, but were subsequently beaten 2-0 and 2-1 on further league trips face the Light Blues on home soil.

While Rangers were in a tough battle on Thursday and Hearts have enjoyed a week to prepare, Levein is unsure if that is an advantage.

"That's in the mix I suppose," he said. "But you also have the confidence they have in their home form and the confidence they gained from beating a very good side [on Thursday] night.

"It's always hard to work out if it's a disadvantage or an advantage to us."

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Happy Lennon hails Hibs

Hibernian boss Neil Lennon thought his side had been outstanding as they brushed Dundee aside 3-0 at Dens Park.

Florian Kamberi, Martin Boyle and Thomas Agyepong scored after the interval for Hibs who are second in the Scottish Premiership table after six matches, five points behind leaders and Edinburgh rivals Hearts, who were held to a draw by Livingston on Saturday.

In contrast Dundee are rooted to the foot of the table after losing their first six matches of the campaign.

Former Celtic and Bolton Wanderers boss Lennon said after his side's comprehensive victory: "I thought that was one of the most complete performances I've had in my time here.

"We were a bit wasteful in the first half in front of goal, but in the second half, once we got the goal, we looked in total control. They were absolutely outstanding.

"We played very, very well, the passing, counter-attacking the finishing, and we kept a clean sheet, so you're looking at a very happy manager."

Hibs are 6/4 to beat Aberdeen on Tuesday while a Dons victory at Easter Road in the League Cup quarter-final is available at 17/10.