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Celtic a million miles away from ninth-successive Premiership title – Lennon

Neil Lennon claims Celtic are “a million miles” away from a ninth-successive Ladbrokes Premiership title despite a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock taking them 12 points clear of Rangers at the top.

Killie striker Eamonn Brophy scored in the seventh minute with a penalty he won when he was fouled by returning Hoops defender Jozo Simunovic.

However, goals from stopper Kristoffer Ajer, Odsonne Edouard and fellow striker Leigh Griffiths drove the league leaders to a comfortable win.

Alex Dyer’s side ended the game with 10 men after midfielder Alan Power, already booked, was sent packing by referee Kevin Clancy for his challenge on right-back Jeremie Frimpong.

Rangers’ 2-2 draw against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park saw them drop another two points – they have a game in hand – with Celtic carving up their 10th domestic win out of 10 fixtures in 2020, with 10 league games remaining.

“The performance and the reaction to going a goal down pleased me most,” said Lennon. “Though I felt the first goal shouldn’t have counted as Brophy was offside when he got the ball.

“The title is a million miles away as far as we are concerned, we just want to concentrate on our affairs.

“In the second half we were outstanding and I think some of our football was simply irresistible at times.

Lennon is confident James Forrest will recover from a knock which kept him out of the game to face FC Copenhagen in the Europa League on Thursday night, while hoping skipper Scott Brown and fellow midfielder Olivier Ntcham recover from calf injuries.

He added: “I don’t want to talk about titles. I just want to talk about the game and we are looking forward to a big European night on Thursday.

“Since the turn of the year we have been magnificent.

“I don’t want to keep going on about mentality and stuff but we have some outstanding footballers.

“There was a lot of good football and the guys deserve a lot of credit.”

Asked about the key players missing from yet another impressive performance which sets them up for the Europa League, following a 1-1 draw at the Parken stadium on Thursday, the Northern Irishman said: “Jamesy should be fine but we will have to wait and see with the other two.

“Olly has a bit of a calf strain that he has been playing with for the past two games and we didn’t want to risk him.”

Kilmarnock remain in seventh place, five points behind Hibernian but – with five fixture remaining before the split – boss Alex Dyer believes a top-six spot is still feasible.

He said: “Of course. That is the message we have got, we have got five games, they are important.

“It is going to be a tough run in but they are games that, if we want to get to the top six, we have to win.”

On Power’s red card, Dyer said: “I didn’t think it was a second yellow to be honest. He tried to tackle the lad, the lad went down but I don’t think it was a second yellow.”

Dyer brought on 18-year-old midfielder Ally Taylor as a second-half substitute to make his debut with his brother Greg, a former Killie player, playing for Celtic.

He said: “I hope Ally can have a similar impact to Greg. He’s got a bright future. He’s a good kid, he works hard every day and he’s been training with the first-team squad for the last month or so.

“It was right that I put him on because we needed another midfielder in there.

“It was a big occasion and he handled it very well.”