Lennon enjoys winning return as Celtic knock Hibs out of Scottish Cup


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Edinburgh (AFP) – Newly-appointed Celtic manager Neil Lennon enjoyed a winning return to Easter Road as the Hoops knocked his former club Hibernian out of the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 quarter-final win on Saturday.

Lennon left the Edinburgh club in as yet unexplained circumstances in January amid reports of a training ground row with Hibs players.

And on Tuesday he found himself in charge of Celtic for a second time after Brendan Rodgers dramatically walked out of Parkhead to join English Premier League side Leicester despite being on course to guide the Bhoys to a ‘treble treble’ of trophies. 

After a goalless first half, Celtic went ahead in the 62nd minute with a powerful shot from winger James Forrest before captain Scott Brown doubled the lead in the 75th minute with another well-taken goal as Paul Heckingbottom, Lennon’s successor as Hibs boss, suffered his first defeat in four .

But not for the first time this season in Scotland, a player found himself under attack from a supporter in the stands with a bottle thrown at Scott Sinclair, the Celtic winger.

“The second half was outstanding, really great control,” said Lennon. “We were magnificent. Two magnificent goals but it could have been more. 

“The control of the game was absolutely brilliant. At times we could have done a little better with the ball in the final third.”

Heckingbottom added: “They (Celtic) played well, but we didn’t quite have enough. Against Rangers on Friday we’ve got to be at our best, be on the front foot and impose our game on them. 

“We did for a spell tonight before the first goal but we just fell short today.”

Meanwhile former Scotland defender Willie Miller condemned the bottle-throwing incident, which followed coins being hurled at ex-Rangers striker Kris Boyd during Kilmarnock’s 1-0 defeat by Celtic last month. 

“It (the bottle-throwing incident) is ridiculous,” Aberdeen great Miller told BBC Radio Scotland. 

“We talk about VAR on the pitch but we probably should be getting VAR in the stands to make sure we can root this out. 

“We witness these incidents and then nothing seems to be done about it. There’s got to be more emphasis on safety at football grounds. It’s supposed to be a game where you can come and enjoy it.”