Lennon: Reputation of good Celtic fans is being damaged
Shaken: Vaclav Hladky (pic: SNS Group)
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has hit out at the supporter who threw a firecracker onto the pitch during the 2-0 win at St Mirren.
Ryan Christie had just netted the Hoops’ second goal in the 85th minute when the missile landed close to Buddies’ keeper Vaclav Hladky. The Czech ace was left shaken by the incident but was able to continue after assessment from his physio team.
The incident took the edge off a victory which kept the champions 13 points clear of Rangers and edged them closer to an eighth straight league title. “I’m just hoping that the St Mirren goalkeeper is all right,” Lennon said. “I don’t see the motivation for anyone to bring a flashbang or pyrotechnic into a stadium.
“The health and safety of the players and officials is paramount. It didn’t just spook the St Mirren keeper but some of our players, too. Ryan was also spooked and the goalie might have burst an ear drum.
“Health and safety of the players is paramount. And I don’t think it’s a necessity that anyone needs in the stadium.”
Neil Lennon has criticised Celtic fans for throwing a smoke bomb on to the pitch in tonight’s 2-0 win over St Mirren. pic.twitter.com/2EMbOviPCb
— BBC Sport Scotland (@BBCSportScot) April 3, 2019
“It just damages people – and it could have damaged a player. It damages the reputation of the good fans we have and we just don’t want it. It’s just totally uncalled for at a time when we should be enjoying football.
“It serves no purpose in a football ground. The club have made a real stand in condemning it at times. I don’t understand why people want to do that. There is no logic in it.”
St Mirren boss Oran Kearney said he was tempted to take his players off the pitch after the incident.
“It is mad to think of how that possibly could have ended up,” he said. “You are tempted to walk your team off the pitch. We have been beat tonight – the easiest thing for me to do is make a massive meal out of that and deflect away, but it is a huge deal.
“We are hopeful that thankfully it hasn’t ended up more sinister than it could have. I am standing 50 or 60 yards away and it made me jump. So if he is a yard or however close, I dread to think the sound that came off.”
Timothy Weah had earlier set Celtic on the way to victory with the opening goal after 15 minutes.
Jermaine Defoe on the mark against Hearts (pic: SNS Group)
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard was pleased with his players’ response after the weekend defeat to Celtic, the Light Blues sweeping Hearts aside 3-0 at Ibrox.
“We came out the blocks, played with energy, intensity and we passed the ball very well – and Hearts found it very difficult to live with us,” he said.
“We came off the gas a little bit at 2-0 up to half-time. I thought our game management was really good. We got sloppy in the last 20 minutes, but I would have probably predicted that before the game with the shift they put in with 10 men at Celtic Park.”
The results mean that if Celtic defeat Livingston at home on Saturday, Rangers would need at least a draw against Motherwell at Fir Park 24 hours later to prolong the title race.
Scores: Aberdeen 3 Motherwell 1, Rangers 3 Hearts 0, St Johnstone 2 Dundee 0, Livingston 2 Hamilton 0, Hibs 0 Kilmarnock 0, St Mirren 0 Celtic 2.