Lennon believes Celtic are hitting form at just the right time for Spartak clash
16:15 GMT, 30 September 2012
Neil Lennon believes Celtic have hit the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in perfect time for their Champions League clash with Spartak Moscow on Tuesday night.
The Hoops swept Motherwell away at Fir Park on Saturday to replace the Steelmen at the summit, thanks to a strike from in-form Gary Hooper and an own goal by the unfortunate Well defender Adam Cummins, who compounded a miserable afternoon when he was sent off after the break for a professional foul on Kris Commons.
Celtic could afford to have skipper Scott Brown's penalty saved by Darren Randolph and they were handed an added boost when Georgios Samaras returned for the first time since injuring his elbow on international duty early in September as a second-half substitute.
Delight: Celtic's Scott Brown after the own goal
Lennon said: 'We have gone top of the league so going into the game on Tuesday, that is a good marker for us psychologically.
'We are starting to hit a bit of form which is great.
'The new lads are starting to settle in, we have players back and we will need them.
'We were very motivated going into the game and we picked Motherwell off very well at times.
'They found it a little bit difficult to adjust to the movement and we were able to get down the sides and round the back of them because we isolated their two centre-halves and some of the passing to get the boys in was very good, so overall it was a big performance.
'It was great to see Samaras back in full flow, and I thought Emilio Izaguirre was brilliant, he set a really good tempo and example and it augurs well but we know Tuesday is a different animal.
'We won't have anywhere near the bulk of possession or chances created but it is a huge confidence-booster going into that game.'
Form: Neil Lennon thinks Celtic have hit the top at the right time
Any notions that Motherwell could be genuine contenders for the SPL title this season came to an abrupt end against a rampant Celtic side who could and should have scored more, notwithstanding the fact that the home side played most of the second half with 10 men.
Indeed, Fir Park manager Stuart McCall was pleased to escape without suffering a bigger drubbing.
'We wanted to do better but their movement was outstanding,' he said.
'We have a young side and there was a certain naivety, we squeezed too high.
'So it could have been more but one thing was, my players didn't chuck it.
'We said before the game that regardless of what the score was, they had to stick at it and they certainly did.'