Lennon: As good as it gets

Neil Lennon has labelled Celtic's 7-0 Scottish Cup demolition of Hearts as the best display in his time as manager.

Last Updated: 01/12/13 at 20:25 Post Comment

Neil Lennon congratulates Kris Commons after his hat-trick against Hearts as No

Neil Lennon congratulates Kris Commons after his hat-trick against Hearts as No

A hat-trick from Kris Commons, two from skipper Scott Brown and one apiece from Joe Ledley and Mikael Lustig secured the holders a simple passage into Monday's fifth-round draw.

And Lennon, who was celebrating his 200th game in charge of the champions, heaped praise on his side after they put Tuesday's UEFA Champions League defeat to AC Milan behind them in style.

"That is the best performance I have had in my time as manager of this club," he said.

"You always look for more but in terms of Utopia that is as good as it gets. That's the way we have been trying to build this team and that is the way we want a Celtic team to play.

"The things that have been missing in the past couple of months - the final ball, people not getting in the box, the crispness of our passing - it was all there today and it wouldn't have mattered who we played on that form anyone would have taken a beating today.

"We are a good team with some great players and I wanted a reaction from Tuesday night and that's what I got. That first half is as good as I have seen and I don't remember ever being involved with a Celtic team who were five up at half time.

"There was no shame in going out of the Champions League as we were competing at the highest level but the players showed today that they are a Champions League team and they have put a marker down for the rest of the season.

"I couldn't have asked for more. Even my captain got two goals today so it's been a fantastic day in the background of what has been a very difficult weekend for the people of the city."

Lennon's counterpart Gary Locke said his young team had no answer to Celtic's 'world class players' but insists his side will take lessons from the one-sided affair.

"We have to get that out of our system as quickly as possible but there is certain a lot that we can learn from it," he said.

"We started very badly and lost a poor goal after just three minutes but sometimes you just have to hold your hands up as we got completely outclassed today.

"Celtic have world class players and if you give them a lot of time on the ball they will hurt you and that is what disappointed me most today that we didn't get close to them at all.

"Their passing and movement today was first class but we have to do better in our job of trying to stop other teams playing.

"We now have to pick ourselves up. We are out the cup but our aim this season is to try and stay in the Premiership. It was a harsh lesson as Celtic were outstanding but we cannot just feel sorry for ourselves."

You can follow the Scottish Cup fifth-round draw live from Hampden on Sky Sports News from 2.00pm on Monday

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