Tag Archives: thomson

Lincoln City push through loan for Newport"s Jake Thomson on Twitter

The first Twitter transfer Lincoln push through loan for Newport's Thomson in 140 characters

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

16:51 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:52 GMT, 2 January 2013

Trinidad and Tobago Jake Thomson signed for Lincoln City on a month-long loan today from Newport County – but it took a bit of Twitter wrangling to push the move through.

The Welsh side announced on their official account at 1pm this afternoon that the deal had been completed, only for fellow Conference club Lincoln to immediately shoot back and deny it.

The Imps Twitter account replied: 'Can you therefore get the paperwork signed and sent to us so the move can be completed'

Twitter transfer! Lincoln took offence at Newport's claims that a loan deal for Jake Thomson had been completed

Twitter transfer! Lincoln took offence at Newport's claims that a loan deal for Jake Thomson had been completed

They later snapped back at another Twitter user who had simply told them to pick up the phone to complete negotiations, writing: 'Surely the unprofessional approach is announcing a loan move that hasn't even happened yet'

23-year-old Thomson did complete his move later in the day and is eligible to make his Lincoln debut at Ebbsfleet United on Saturday.

Loan deal: Trinidad and Tobago international Thomson in action for Cheltenham Town

Loan deal: Trinidad and Tobago international Thomson in action for Cheltenham Town

He joined Newport from Forest Green Rovers and has so far made 16 appearances this season.

Capped twice by the Caribbean nation, he has previously played for Southampton, Bournemouth, Torquay, Cheltenham and Exeter City.

Kilmarnock 1 Celtic 3: match report

Kilmarnock 1 Celtic 3: No European hangover as Lennon's men cruise to victory

PUBLISHED:

14:20 GMT, 8 December 2012

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UPDATED:

14:43 GMT, 8 December 2012

Celtic rounded off a momentous week with a convincing Clydesdale Bank Premier League victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The Hoops' 2-1 home win over Spartak Moscow on Wednesday night sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League and they continued their good work in Ayrshire, starting when skipper Scott Brown fired them into the lead in the 27th minute.

Second-half goals from midfielder Joe Ledley and substitute Georgios Samaras, on for Lassad Nouioui, were just reward for the Parkhead side's dominance, before former Hoop Cillian Sheridan grabbed a late consolation.

Off and running: Scott Brown celebrates opening the scoring against Kilmarnock

Off and running: Scott Brown celebrates opening the scoring against Kilmarnock

Match facts

Kilmarnock: Bell, Fowler, Nelson, O'Leary, Tesselaar, Kelly, Racchi (Sissoko 56), Perez (O'Hara 68), Harkins (McKenzie 68), Heffernan, Sheridan.

Subs not used: Letheren, Dayton, Johnson, Winchester

Goal: Sheridan 90

Booked: Kelly, Harkins, Heffernan

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose, Wilson, Izaguirre (Kayal 76), Brown, Wanyama, Ledley, Mulgrew, Hooper (Miku 82), Nouioui (Samaras 66).

Subs not used: Zaluska, Rogne, Watt, McGeouch.

Goals: Brown 27, Ledley 65, Samaras 74

Referee: Craig Thomson.

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Celtic have struggled at times in post-European games this season and indeed had taken only one point from nine following their previous three Champions League games, including a 2-0 home defeat to Killie in October.

However, there was no such danger this time as Neil Lennon's side cemented their place at the top of the SPL.

And with the knockout stages of the European football's elite competition not resuming until February, the champions look eager to drive home their domestic superiority over the next couple of months.

The travelling fans had arrived in buoyant mood following their side's win against Spartak but quite obviously in less numbers than usual, which, allied to a pitiful home support and cold, driving rain, dampened the atmosphere, especially in the first-half.

Lennon made four changes to his side, two of which were enforced.

Midfielder Victor Wanyama returned from suspension with Ledley, right-back Adam Matthews and Lassad in for the injured Mikael Lustig (hamstring) and Kris Commons (thigh) as Beram Kayal and Samaras dropped to the bench.

Killie boss Kenny Shiels had, somewhat bizarrely, threatened to play skipper Manuel Pascali even though he had served only half of his two-game suspension but the Italian was nowhere to be seen, although midfielder Liam Kelly replaced Lee Johnson who started as substitute.

The Parkhead men, with a back three of Efe Ambrose, Kelvin Wilson and Charlie Mulgrew, almost created their first chance in the fifth minute when Ledley teed up Gary Hooper but his pass to Brown inside the box was just too strong and the danger evaporated.

Killie, with Sheridan partnering Paul Heffernan in attack, took their time to settle but gradually began to inch their way up the park.

Doubling up: Joe Ledley slots home Celtic's second goal in their win over Kilmarnock

Doubling up: Joe Ledley slots home Celtic's second goal in their win over Kilmarnock

In the 18th minute Sheridan recovered the ball on the byline after miscontrolling it and inadvertently fooling Matthews in the process, but his lobbed cross to Heffernan was hit into the side netting by his fellow Irishman.

As the game struggled to reach top gear Kelly was booked for a foul on Matthews, a decision which angered the home support, before Ambrose headed a Mulgrew corner over the bar.

Brown's goal to break the deadlock was one of simplicity.
When Matthews took a pass from Hooper and picked out the Scotland midfielder from the byline, he guided the ball quite calmly past Cammy Bell from 12 yards.

Ledley forced Bell into a save a minute later with a low drive and only then did the home side appear to warm to their task.

Clash: Gary Harkins challenges Celtic's Joe Ledley as his Kilmarnock side fall to defeat

Clash: Gary Harkins challenges Celtic's Joe Ledley as his Kilmarnock side fall to defeat

A powerful 30-yard snap-shot from Sheridan 10 minutes from the break, which sailed over the bar, offered Killie fans a little encouragement, as did Kelly's curling effort from a similar distance moments later which almost sneaked past Fraser Forster at the far post.

Lassad had the ball in the net in the 43rd minute with a shot from close range, after Matthews' drive had found its way through, but the flag was up for offside.

A minute into the second half Heffernan should have levelled when, with the Hoops defence sleeping, he was given time and space eight yards out but his drive was blocked by the foot of Mulgrew.

A relieved Celtic broke quickly and Bell made a fine save from Hooper's point-blank drive, after the Englishman had been set up by Matthews, who was spending much of the game driving down the right wing.

Head Bhoy: Georgios Samaras added Celtic's third to seal a comfortable win

Head Bhoy: Georgios Samaras added Celtic's third to seal a comfortable win

Celtic reasserted themselves and Ledley fired over the bar before the visitors began upping their corner count.

Mahamadou Sissoko replaced Danny Racchi as Shiels tried to change tack but Celtic stretched their lead through Ledley when the home side failed to properly clear their lines.

Wanyama picked up the loose ball, played in Brown and when his driven cross came into the middle the sliding Wales international forced it over the line from a few yards out.

Samaras came on for Lassad and Borja Perez and Gary Harkins came off to be replaced by Rory McKenzie and Mark O'Hara.

Consolation: Cillian Sheridan (right) scored against his former side but it was too little, too late

Consolation: Cillian Sheridan (right) scored against his former side but it was too little, too late

However, it was the big Greek striker who made an immediate impact following another driving run by Matthews when he headed the Wales international's deep cross past Bell and in off the bar.

Ambrose should have made it 4-0 a minute from time when Mulgrew planted a free-kick on his head but the Hoops defender headed wide and there was enough time left for Sheridan to volley a Jeroen Tesselaar cross past Forster.

Keven Mealamu warns England that New Zealand are ready

All Blacks are over sickness bug and ready to leave England's series in tatters, warns Mealamu

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UPDATED:

15:16 GMT, 30 November 2012

New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has insisted that the illness which hit nearly all of Steve Hansen’s squad earlier in the week has had no adverse effect on their preparations for Saturday’s final autumn international against England at Twickenham.

Hansen revealed on Thursday that the vast majority of his All Blacks squad had been struck by a 24-hour sickness bug which has caused vomiting and diarrhoea.

But despite confirming that he was one of the players affected by the illness, Mealamu – who starts on Saturday – is confident that the world champions are over the worst of it and are fully prepared for the challenge of taking on Stuart Lancaster’s side.

Ready to roll: Keven Mealamu visited the West London Free School today to teach the Year 8 pupils

Ready to roll: Keven Mealamu visited the West London Free School today to teach the Year 8 pupils

Recovered: New Zealanders Mealamu, Adam Thomson and Tawera Kerr-Barlow sign autographs

Recovered: New Zealanders Mealamu, Adam Thomson and Tawera Kerr-Barlow sign autographs

‘Most of the team have been hit by a bit of a bug, but that is the sort of thing that happens on tour,’ explained the 33-year-old veteran of 101 Tests. ‘I think everyone is just getting over it at the right time though.

‘Everyone is well now and certainly feeling a lot better than we did earlier in the week.

‘I became ill with it for a bit on Tuesday night so it wasn’t a good start to the week, but you just have to get on with it, get on with the job and make sure we get the things we need ready for the weekend.

‘Obviously it is something that has come through the team as a bit of a surprise but we have had to put it aside for a second and make sure we are prepared.’

The All Blacks have not played against England since 2010 – when Mealamu was banned for four weeks for headbutting Lewis Moody – and for six of the starting XV it will be the first time they have played at Twickenham, but Mealamu insists that those who have played at HQ before are just as excited about running out at the iconic stadium on Saturday as the rookies are.

‘All the boys understand the magnitude of where we are playing,’ he enthused. ‘It is honestly one of the greatest places to play rugby. The home of rugby.

‘Whether it’s guys that have played there before or not, we all just can’t wait to get on the field and play.’

Top class: Richie McCaw and the rest of the All Blacks were in training yesterday

Top class: Richie McCaw and the rest of the All Blacks were in training yesterday

Illness: The New Zealand squad were struck down with a sickness bug earlier this week

Illness: The New Zealand squad were struck down with a sickness bug earlier this week

A stalwart of the Kiwi side for 10 years now, Mealamu has had to play second fiddle to Andrew Hore so far during this tour, but with his fellow veteran suspended for five weeks for striking Wales lock Bradley Davies in the 33-10 win in Cardiff last weekend, Mealamu is given the chance to start at Twickenham.

The Auckland Blues hooker – no stranger to controversy himself – sympathises with Hore, but he is understandably delighted to be pulling on the All Black No 2 jersey again.

‘There is nothing worse than watching on the sidelines so I am really looking forward to getting back out there and helping the team out,’ said Mealamu, who was talking after an impromptu kick about with budding rugby players from the West London Free School at Regents Park.

‘I think Andrew and the team understood what happened and what it looked like and we knew what was coming. We all have to take on extra responsibility without him and we have to support him as well.’

Challenge: Tom Youngs (centre) will line up against Mealamu

Challenge: Tom Youngs (centre) will line up against Mealamu

Having seen umpteen Red Rose hookers come and go over the last decade, Mealamu lines up opposite another new face on Saturday in the form of Tom Youngs, the 25-year-old Leicester star who’s performances have been one of the major positives for Lancaster this autumn despite defeats to South Africa and Australia in the last two weeks. Mealamu admits he has been impressed by Youngs’ start to Test rugby.

‘I have had a brief look at him over the last week and I know he has just recently converted from being in the backline, so it is quite a good effort from him to be able to play in the front row now,’ said Mealamu. ‘He has done really well.

Ready England will have to make special plans to stop Dan Carter from running the show

Ready England will have to make special plans to stop Dan Carter from running the show

‘I have been impressed with his work around the field and he is quite a physical player. He looks to hit a lot of the rucks and likes to have ball in hand, so for us we’re looking at him as quite an important player for them.’

Having seen several England sides come and go since his All Blacks debut in 2002, Mealamu – who infamously dislocated Brian O’Driscoll’s shoulder in tandem with Tana Umaga in the first Lions Test in 2005 – is a good judge of a Red Rose XV.

Lancaster’s troops have been criticised for lacking a cutting edge going forward, but Mealamu says he has been impressed with the attacking abilities of what he sees as a team breaking with English traditions.

Limbering up: Ma'a Nonu

Relaxing: Ma'a Nonu and Liam Messam (right)

Limbering up: Ma'a Nonu is put through his paces (left), as he relaxes with Liam Messam (right)

‘We will find out more about this England team in time,’ said Mealamu, who started in last year’s World Cup final over France, ‘I think at the moment they are a team that are still working to get that identity going and put a run of good performances together.

‘But for an England side they use the ball really well. They are quite an exciting side to watch and they look to counter really well and I think comparing to England sides in the past they seem more willing to attack.’

But as impressed as Mealamu may be with England’s ability to attack and counter-attack, there is no better side in the world at those two facets of the game than the All Blacks, who have cruised past Scotland, Italy and Wales so far on tour without ever really hitting top gear.

Bouncing back: Chris Robshaw will hope to end the series on a high against the world champions

Bouncing back: Chris Robshaw will hope to end the series on a high against the world champions

But there is no sign of the All Blacks letting up – illness or no illness.

Hansen has picked the strongest side available to him for Saturday’s game and Mealamu says the side are determined to end their tour on a high.

‘We are happy with what we have been able to achieve so far but the tour is not finished yet, we have got one more job to do so we need to make sure we finish well,’ he said. ‘It all comes down to this last game and how we finish.

‘It is against another big foe of ours and who we enjoy playing against. To be playing England at their home, it is a game you have to come over here and make sure you do well.’

All smiles: Chris Ashton (left) shared a joke in training yesterday

All smiles: Chris Ashton (left) shared a joke in training yesterday

Known for playing with a swagger and verve not seen anywhere else on the planet, and as odds-on favourites, New Zealand could be forgiven for targetting not just a win, but a comprehensive one. But Mealamu is having none of it.

‘It is about winning,’ he said. ‘Whether it comes down to one point or whether it is a bigger margin it doesn’t matter, at the end of the day it is just about winning and that is what we are determined to do.’

England, you have been warned.

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 2 match report: Lassad Nouioui and Charlie Mulgrew goals

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 2: Late salvo sees off Dons and gets Bhoys back to winning ways

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UPDATED:

15:11 GMT, 17 November 2012

Celtic made hard work of it but eventually netted twice in the final quarter of the game to defeat Aberdeen and jump to the top of the SPL, albeit with Hibs yet to play.

Lassad Nouioui opened the scoring when he stroked into an empty net in the 73rd minute, having only come on for Kris Commons four minutes earlier. Charlie Mulgrew added a second against his former club three minutes later.

Despite the early kick-off, the crowds arrived in their numbers as Pittodrie basked in the lunchtime sun.

Game over: Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew is mobbed after netting the second

Game over: Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew sparks wild scenes after netting the second

Match facts

Aberdeen: Langfield, Reynolds, Considine, Anderson, Magennis, Rae (Robertson 46), Osbourne, Clark, Fraser (Vernon 64), McGinn, Hayes (Fallon 78). Subs not used: Jason Brown, Shaughnessy, Masson, Smith.

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew, Lustig, Wanyama, Kayal, Commons (Nouioui 69), Samaras (McGeouch 80), Watt. Subs not used: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, Ibrahim, Atajic, Chalmers, McGeouch.

Goals: Nouioui 73, Mulgrew 77.

Referee: Craig Thomson.

Attendance: 18,000.

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The home support were boosted by
teenage winger Ryan Fraser's swift recovery from an ankle knock
sustained in their 4-1 win over St Mirren last week. The only change to
the side that had started that game saw Gavin Rae return in place of
Clark Robertson.

Celtic, who had disappointingly drawn
with St Johnstone, handed Tony Watt a start after the promising young
striker came off the bench to find the net against the Saints. He
replaced Venezuelan striker Miku in attack.

There were two further alterations to
Neil Lennon's starting eleven, with midfielders Scott Brown and Joe
Ledley missing out. Mikael Lustig and Beram Kayal took their places in
the side.

As early as the second minute, Josh
Magennis' strong run up the right flank for Aberdeen allowed him to slip
a pass to Johnny Hayes, only for the former Inverness Caledonian
Thistle winger to send his left-footed shot into the side netting.

And five minutes later, the Dons' top
scorer Niall McGinn fashioned an opening with neat play on the edge of
the area, but Fraser Forster was able to gather comfortably.

On the scoresheet: Lassad Nouioui turns to celebrate after netting the first

On the scoresheet: Lassad Nouioui turns to celebrate after netting the first

/11/17/article-2234376-16139382000005DC-11_634x495.jpg” width=”634″ height=”495″ alt=”No holds barred: Gavin Rae goes in hard on Kris Commons” class=”blkBorder” />

No holds barred: Gavin Rae goes in hard on Kris Commons

Celtic came closest yet as Commons
retrieved a half-cleared Mulgrew corner on the left and swung a
dangerous cross to the far post, where Watt headed off the base of the
post.

Just after the half-hour, Chris Clark
created space to cross from the left for the Dons and though McGinn got
in the way of an initial header from Magennis, the former Celtic man
reacted quickly to send a low shot narrowly wide of Forster's right-hand
upright.

The Dons made a change at the
interval with Robertson replacing Rae, who had been touch and go before
the match. And the home side had some pressure early in the second half,
culminating in a Magennis throw being headed narrowly over by Anderson.

Celtic were presented with a fine
opportunity when Andrew Considine brought down Commons 22 yards out.
Mulgrew took the free-kick but looped his effort high and wide of the
far post.

Aberdeen were dealt a blow when
Fraser was again forced off just after the hour, limping from the pitch
to be replaced by Scott Vernon.

On the run: Georgios Samaras evades Gavin Rae

On the run: Georgios Samaras evades Gavin Rae

The Dons were undeterred, however,
and after 68 minutes they had their best chance yet. McGinn cut the ball
back for Hayes, and the Irishman set himself before firing low into the
side netting.

But the deadlock was finally broken
five minutes later, and the goal came for Celtic. Wanyama crashed a
25-yard shot off Jamie Langfield's left-hand post, and all newcomer
Nouioui had to do was roll the ball home.

Boosted by their goal, Celtic added a
second just three minutes later. Samaras crossed from the left and, at
the back post, Mulgrew acrobatically volleyed home left-footed.

The visitors had the ball in the net
again when Wanyama headed home at the back post, but the flag had
already been raised for offside against the Celtic man.

Sleep will be a luxury for Thomson as Brit

Sleep in short supply for Thomson as Brit bids to make history in Vendee Globe

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UPDATED:

11:28 GMT, 10 November 2012

Alex Thomson will spend the next three months with little more than two hours sleep in every 24.

During the next 90 days he will snatch on average 20 to 30 minutes of shuteye every four hours while he keeps his racing yacht on course to beat 19 other sailors around the world, unassisted and without stopping.

Time, day and night, and light and darkness will have no relevance to him.

Tough times: Alex Thomson hopes to become the first British winner of the Vendee Globe

Tough times: Alex Thomson hopes to become the first British winner of the Vendee Globe

The 38-year-old is aiming to become the
first British winner of the Vendee Globe, a race known as the ‘Everest
of sailing’ yet more people have climbed to the top of the mountain than
completed the round the world solo yacht race.

It happens every four years and an average of just 50 per cent of the sailors finish. Two have died in the previous five races. Brit Nigel Burgess was the first victim of the race back in 1992 when he drowned in the Bay of Biscay. Four years later a Canadian Gerry Rouf left the port and was never found again. His boat washed up on the coast of Chile.

‘If I fall off the boat I’m dead,’ Thomson says. ‘We work in an extremely stressful environment. Imagine you’re in a rally car with Colin McRae driving at full speed through a forest at night-time, it’s raining, you’ve got no lights on the car, no seatbelts, breaks and no windscreen. Your brain is telling you you’re going to die. That’s what it’s like when you’re in the southern ocean and you’re going down waves at 30 to 40 knots. You could slow down – but you want to win the race.

‘Your body adapts and gets used to the lack of sleep but you have to be disciplined. You start getting shorter periods where you become tired and need to sleep. Sometimes you don’t always sleep but you have to. If you don’t, you can become at best uncompetitive and at worst dangerous. You have to be on top of your game all the time, and if you’re not, you die.’

Thomson is well-aware of the risk. Back in 2006 while racing part of his boat broke and it capsized leaving him stranded. Sailing code meant that fierce rival Mike Golding, another Briton racing at the Vendee Globe this year, halted his race to go back for him. He spent 12 hours between the accident and being rescued, during which he admits he thought his time was up.

Golding sailed one loop in search of Thomson and could not find him but at the second attempt he did. He was in the eye of what was becoming a hurricane. He believes if Golding had missed him that second time he would have died.

Bossing the sea: Thomson risks death if anything were to go wrong aboard his yacht

Bossing the sea: Thomson risks death if anything were to go wrong aboard his yacht

The race attracts the likes of Zinedine Zidane who has been in previous years to watch the start, drawn by that fascinating aspect. During the two weeks leading up to the start of the race 1.6million people flock to the small fishing village of Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France.

Three hundred thousand will line the banks of the river Loire today while the competitors are paraded along it in their racing boats and others mass along the seafront as the competitors head to the start line. Why is it so popular here ‘When we drive down that river they wonder if we’re going to come back again, that’s a big part of it,’ Thomson says.

The sailors are major celebrities in France and even the three Britons racing this year – Thomson, Golding and the only female entrant Samantha Davies – are figures of adoration. Spectators queue for up to two hours to be able to walk along the small pontoon that houses the racing boats. The competitors are in and out of their boats preparing but take time to stop for pictures standing on their boats. When they do – masses crowd around to take photographs.

But the most famous person to have taken part on the race from our shores is Ellen MacArthur. She became famous when she came second in the Vendee Globe back in 2001 and was the first woman to sail solo around the world without stopping.

‘The reason I’m here is because of Ellen MacArthur,’ Thomson says. ‘She raised enough interest back in England for the likes of me to raise money to do it. The first time anyone did this was in 1969, the same year we first put a man on the moon. It was a Brit called Robin Knox-Johnston and people thought he was mad and should see a psychiatrist. Since then less than 100 people have sailed solo, non-stop around the world but 3,000 have climbed Everest and 600 or 700 have been into space.’

Thomson’s yacht – called ‘Hugo Boss’ after his sponsors – is made up of 30,000 customised parts.

There is no bed, no shower and no toilet. He eats vacuum packs of food that contain 800 calories and all have the common denominator that they don’t taste very nice. There are five flavours for the entire three months.

Setting sail: Thomson before the start of the Vendee Globe in Les Sables

Setting sail: Thomson before the start of the Vendee Globe in Les Sables

And there’s a lot that can go wrong – it’s why he can’t grab more than 40 minutes sleep at a time and usually takes just 20. The 20 sailors have behind them huge teams trying to ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s similar to a Formula One set up. Hugo Boss flew out 160 people this year just for Thomson, from a physio, to a sports psychologist, to someone whose job it is to don a scuba suit and clean the bottom of the 4million racing yacht.

They sailed in a 40million luxury ‘mega yacht’ as a main base on the pontoon. But things do go wrong. Since Thomson became the youngest person to win a solo round-the-world yacht race aged 25 he has attempted the Vendee Globe twice and never got round. Four years ago sailing the racing yacht to the tiny fishing village where it starts he hit a 300 tonne fishing boat.

The team managed to fix the damage before the race started but two days in he hit something submerged under the surface and the race was over. Four years preparation ruined. ‘It’s crushing,’ Thomson adds. ‘It’s brutal, really brutal. As a Formula One racer it’s not so bad you have 20 races in a year so you move on. We do this race every four years. It’s like our Olympics.’

This year is slightly different than the previous attempts. Not only did he break the world record in Transatlantic sailing just three months ago, since the last time he entered the race Thomson has got married and he will leave behind his wife and one-year-old child. It is interesting that only fathers have ever won the previous six races.

‘It’s changed with me having a kid and the responsibility of that,’ he says. ‘You’re much more careful. I feel older now. You start off being young with loads of confidence but then you get more experienced and you’re more relaxed. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think I could win. But a realistic aim is to finish. I want to do it for me and my family, for everyone behind me.’

If he makes it round to become the first Briton ever to win there are going to be a lot of sleeps before he gets to see them again – but they’ll be every four hours.

Alex Thomson is sponsored by HUGO BOSS

Celtic 1 Hearts 0: Georgios Samaras fires Bhoys to the top of SPL

Celtic 1 Hearts 0: Samaras fires Bhoys to the top of the SPL

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UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 7 October 2012

Georgios Samaras followed up his memorable midweek winner in Moscow with the only goal at Parkhead as Celtic beat Hearts to go top of the SPL.

The Greek forward drilled home in the 34th minute following a Kris Commons through-ball and Celtic comfortably saw out the win even if their performance failed to match the spark of their maiden Champions League away win on Tuesday.

Callum Paterson had missed a great chance to give Hearts the lead before Celtic lifted their game with Commons again at the heart of their best play.

Eye for goal: Samaras fires home Celtic's winner

Eye for goal: Samaras fires home Celtic's winner

MATCH FACTS

Celtic: Forster, Lustig (Miku 79), Ambrose, Wilson, Izaguirre, Forrest, Wanyama, Mulgrew (Ledley 32), Samaras, Commons, Hooper (Kayal 70).
Subs: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, McGeouch.

Goal: Samaras 34.

Booking: Wilson.

Hearts: MacDonald (Enckelman 14), Ryan McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Grainger, Barr, Taouil, Stevenson, Driver, Novikovas (Robinson 74), Paterson (Sutton 53).
Subs not used: Gordon Smith, Dylan McGowan, McHattie, Carrick.

Bookings: Zaliukas, Driver.

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)

Celtic, who were briefly knocked off
top spot by Hibernian, were flat at the start of the second half before
exerting some decent pressure in the final quarter.

Celtic were without Scott Brown, who
continues to battle a hip problem, and lost his Scotland team-mate
Charlie Mulgrew in the first half following an early collision with
Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, who was carried off with a bad head
knock. Another player in the Scotland squad for the World Cup
double-header against Wales and Belgium, Andy Webster, was in the Hearts
team after a back injury.

MacDonald was on the park long enough
to force wide Mulgrew's shot after a brilliant first-time return pass
from Commons. But there were immediate signals he would be unable to
continue after he bravely attacked Emilio Izaguirre's cross to punch the
ball away from a crowd of players before Commons and James Forrest
failed to convert the loose ball.

The goalkeeper was taken off wearing a
neck brace to warm applause from around the stadium with Peter
Enckelman taking his place in the 13th minute. Mulgrew played on,
although only temporarily.

Celtic, wearing their new white
change strip with black shorts, initially found it difficult to break
down Hearts' solid formation and Paterson should have scored in the 25th
minute after Andrew Driver slid in to dispossess Kelvin Wilson as the
Celtic defender tried to shepherd the ball behind for a goal kick.
Driver laid the ball back but Paterson fired wide from 12 yards. The
teenager was stretching but he should have done better with the goal
gaping.

Battle: Celtic's Mikael Lustig clashes with Arvydas Novikovas

Battle: Celtic's Mikael Lustig clashes with Arvydas Novikovas

Celtic responded when Samaras met a Commons cross with a controlled first-time volley which hit the outside of the post.

Mulgrew left the field, apparently
concussed, and handed the captain's armband to Samaras, who took just
two minutes to embrace his new-found responsibility with the opener.
Commons was the provider with a pass with the outside of the foot into
the left channel and the Greece striker ran on to it and fired a
left-foot shot through the legs of Enckelman. Commons almost caught the
substitute goalkeeper out with a quick free-kick moments later but the
ball sailed just wide.

Hearts were still posing a threat
from long range – Driver saw a curler deflected wide with Fraser Forster
wrong-footed, Ryan Stevenson fired an effort just wide and the Celtic
goalkeeper tipped over Mehdi Taouil's powerful strike.

The champions came closer in the
sixth minute of injury-time after some sharp build-up play from all
their forward players that ended with Commons firing across the face of
goal and just beyond the post with Gary Hooper just too far away to
convert.

On the run: Celtic's Gary Hooper is chased by Mehdi Taouil

On the run: Celtic's Gary Hooper is chased by Mehdi Taouil

Hearts lost another player to injury
in the 52nd minute when John Sutton replaced Paterson, who had taken a
knock on the back of his leg.

The visitors were keeping Celtic in
their own half without creating any chances and Neil Lennon made a
change in the 70th minute, replacing Hooper with Beram Kayal and moving
to a 4-3-3. The tactical change immediately worked. Commons fired just
over the top corner after good skill in the box and Enckelman pushed
Izaguirre's strike past his near post after the left-back had nutmegged
Ryan McGowan.

Samaras headed over Commons' cross
from six yards and Enckelman saved from Forrest as the winger stumbled
on to a left-footed shot before palming away a Commons shot in
unorthodox fashion.

Samaras had another good chance in
injury-time but he failed to connect with substitute Miku's return ball
from close range and Celtic survived a last-gasp scare when Driver fired
an angled drive just wide.

Pat Fenlon denies gesturing to fans in 5-1 Scottish Cup thrashing

Fenlon denies gesturing to fans as he slams Hibs' lack of desire in 5-1 cup thrashing

PUBLISHED:

18:42 GMT, 19 May 2012

|

UPDATED:

18:42 GMT, 19 May 2012

Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon denied gesturing towards taunting Hearts fans after he was sent to the stand in the final seconds of his team's 5-1 William Hill Scottish Cup final drubbing at Hampden.

A Rudi Skacel double and goals from Darren Barr, Danny Grainger – from the spot – and Ryan McGowan had Hearts on easy street.

Off! Pat Fenlon was sent to the stands after appearing to gesture at the jubilant Hearts fans

Off! Pat Fenlon was sent to the stands after appearing to gesture at the jubilant Hearts fans

The one-sided game saw Hibernian defender Pa Kujabi sent off just after the break for picking up his second yellow card for a foul on Suso Santana in conceding the penalty which Grainger tucked away.

As the celebrating Hearts supporters mockingly chanted 'There's only one Pat Fenlon', the Irishman appeared to gesture at them and was sent off by referee Craig Thomson.

However, Fenlon denied reacting to his tormentors.

'No I didn't,' he said. 'I made a gesture in relation to the way we were playing. We kept giving the ball away cheaply.

And you as well! Hibernian's Paj Kujabi was also sent from the field in the final

And you as well! Hibernian's Paj Kujabi was also sent from the field in the final

'I don't know what they were singing to be honest.

'There is a hell of a lot made in relation to the gesture but we want to talk about the game, we were well beaten today, they were miles ahead of us and it was a difficult day for everybody.'

Fenlon appeared rather confused as to why he was punished by Thomson.

'I don't know (why),' he said. 'I didn't ask him about that. I didn't get to speak to the referee, he was the last person I wanted to speak to.

Goal threat: Rudi Skacel bagged two goals over Hibernian in the final

Goal threat: Rudi Skacel bagged two goals over Hibernian in the final

'It was frustration with the way we are playing. The referee said it was the police but I spoke to the police who said they had nothing to do with it so it is disappointing.'

Hibernian's consolation goal came before the break from skipper James McPake when he reduced the deficit to 2-1.

But that lifeline only last four minutes into the second half when Hearts added goals three and four to effectively secure their first cup win in six years.

Easy does it: Skacel's brace set Hearts on their way to win the Scottish Cup

Easy does it: Skacel's brace set Hearts on their way to win the Scottish Cup

Fenlon slated his players, who survived relegation from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League by the skin of their teeth, and promised changes at the club next season.

'I apologise to our own supporters, it was a desperately disappointing day,” he said.

'We didn't have any players today, it was probably summed up in that (substitute) Eoin Doyle was probably our best player and I don't know how long he was on.

'When you send a team out the least you expect is desire and work rate and we didn't have that today.

'Sometimes you can have games where you are not good enough, we didn't show any real hunger.

'There is a softness about the place that we need to change.

Bitter: Hibernian's players could do little to repel Hearts attacks as they slumped to defeat

Bitter: Hibernian's players could do little to repel Hearts attacks as they slumped to defeat

'We have to sit down and analyse it but obviously there has to be changes to the type of player we recruit to the club.

'You think players would be busting a gut to play but we didn't have that today, that's probably what's wrong with the football club at the moment, lack of desire and will to win.”

Hearts' Portuguese boss, Paulo Sergio, who is out of contract this summer, refused to speculate about his own future, preferring to concentrate on his “biggest achievement” to date as a manager.

It's ours: Hearts players celebrate beating their rivals by lifting the cup

It's ours: Hearts players celebrate beating their rivals by lifting the cup

'It is not a moment to be speaking about my future,' said the former Sporting Lisbon boss.

'I don't know if it my last game, I will see.

'It is not winning the cup or not winning the cup that can make me stay or not, there are a lot of things to talk about.

'The important thing is Hearts.

'It is probably my biggest achievement as manager.

Dejected: Fenlon leaves the touchline after being sent to the stands

Winner: Paulo Sergio celebrates as Hearts sweep Hibernian aside

High and low: Fenlon (left) cuts a far more dejected figure than Hearts counterpart Paulo Sergio (right) during the Scottish Cup final

'I was champion in the first season as coach and we got promoted.

'I lost the final of the Portuguese Cup against Porto and I have won a final as a player and won some promotions, good moments but this is different.

'I am working outside my country which makes things harder in the beginning so that leaves a fantastic flavour.

'It was a great result, a great game by the team so I am very proud and happy.

'It was great to see the joy of all our supporters who came to Hampden and my family were in the stands.

'It was a great moment.'

Hibernian 1 Hearts 5: Jambos win Scottish Cus

Hibernian 1 Hearts 5: Jambos dish out Scottish Cup final thrashing to rivals

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UPDATED:

16:18 GMT, 19 May 2012

Hibernian's long wait to lift the Scottish Cup continues after they were thrashed by Edinburgh rivals Hearts in a one-sided final at Hampden.

The Easter Road side travelled to Glasgow looking to end a 110-year drought in the competition but ended with 10 men, their manager Pat Fenlon in the stand, and their dignity in shreds as Hearts romped to their first final win in six years.

Darren Barr's first goal for Hearts and a strike from Rudi Skacel put Paulo Sergio's side into a comfortable lead against a ragged-looking Hibernian.

Opening salvo: Darren Barr celebrates the first goal for Hearts

Opening salvo: Darren Barr celebrates the first goal for Hearts

Match facts

HIBERNIAN: Brown, Doherty, McPake, Hanlon, Kujabi, Soares (Francomb 76), Osbourne, Claros (Sproule 42), Stevenson, O'Connor (Doyle 54), Griffiths. Subs not used: Grant, O'Hanlon, Doyle, Sproule, Francomb.

Goals: McPake 41

Booked: Doherty

Sent off: Kujabi

HEARTS: MacDonald, McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Grainger, Black (Robinson 86), Barr, Santana (Beattie 76), Skacel, Driver (Taouil 84), Elliott. Subs not used: Ridgers, Prychynenko.

Goals: Barr 15, Skacel 27, 75, Grainger 48 (pen), McGowan 50,

Referee: Craig Thomson.

Hibernian skipper James McPake struck just before the interval to give his side a lifeline which, to say the least, they failed to grab.

Left-back Danny Grainger scored his first Hearts goal from the spot a minute into the second half after Hibs defender Pa Kujabi was sent off by referee Craig Thomson for a foul on Suso Santana inside the box, his second bookable offence.

Hearts right-back Ryan McGowan headed in goal number four just three minutes later to make the rest of the second half a formality, with Skacel grabbing his second from the edge of the box to complete a miserable day for the Leithers, who had boss Fenlon sent off seconds from the end after the Irishman reacted to taunting from the Hearts fans.

It certainly was a remarkable afternoon. The Jambos had not lost to Hibs in three years and one theory was that an early goal would see them continue that run.

Best Barr none: Barr (left) sets Hearts on their way as they keep up their good record against Hibernian

Best Barr none: Barr (left) sets Hearts on their way as they keep up their good record against Hibernian

It was a notion that was to be put to the test – and ultimately proved correct – when the Tynecastle side took the lead, although the goal came from an unlikely source.

The Hibernian defence failed to clear Grainger's corner from the left, and as the ball bobbed around the box, McGowan's blocked drive fell kindly to former Falkirk player Barr who stabbed it past goalkeeper Mark Brown from close range.

Lifeline: Hibernian's James McPake (left) pulled one back

Lifeline: Hibernian's James McPake (left) pulled one back

Barr ran away in celebration, his face revealing as much disbelief as joy and, even at that point, it looked a long way back for Hibernian.

In the 27th minute, after McPake had headed a Leigh Griffiths free-kick wide of the far post, the length of that journey increased when Skacel doubled Hearts' lead, with the Hibernian defence again culpable.

When midfielder Ian Black passed to the Czech midfielder at the edge of the Hibs box, he was given too much time and space to turn and send his shot, helped by a deflection, past the flailing Brown.

Green machine: One Hibs fan was happy, at least...

Green machine: One Hibs fan was happy, at least…

Hearts were in almost total control while Hibernian's ineptness was summed up in the 31st minute when Kujabi's cross from the left found the unmarked Garry O'Connor, who flashed his shot from 16 yards high over the bar.

It was McPake who dragged the Easter Road side back into the game, albeit fleetingly, not long after he had cleared a goal-bound shot from Hearts wide-man Suso Santana off the line.

Final flourish: Rudi Skacel celebrates is goal (left)

Hearts on fire: Darren Barr celebrates scoring the second goal

Final flourish: Rudi Skacel (left) and Darren Barr (right) sent the Hearts supporters into early ecstasy

A third goal for the Gorgie men would have surely ended the game before the interval but, four minutes from the break, on-loan Coventry stopper McPake was on the end of an Isaiah Osbourne cross to slide the ball past Jamie MacDonald from a couple of yards out.

With the green and white hordes still celebrating, Ivan Sproule replaced Jorge Claros, but two goals in four minutes after the break had the maroon and white ribbons on the cup.

Fighting chance: Hibernian's James McPake (right) slots home

Fighting chance: Hibernian's James McPake (right) slots home

Hearts breakthrough: Barr (centre) fires home the first of the Jambos' five goals

Hearts breakthrough: Barr (centre) fires home the first of the Jambos' five goals

Barely a minute had gone when referee Thomson pointed to the spot after Kujabi had grabbed Santana at the edge of the box, before sending off the Hibs defender having booked him in the first half for a foul on the same player.

Grainger slammed in the spot-kick and three minutes later McGowan made it 4-1. Grainger's corner from the left found Skacel whose mis-hit shot was helped on by Elliott and parried up in the air by Brown, giving McGowan an unmissable chance almost on the line.

On our way: At least half of Edinburgh was rocking after Barr put Hearts in front

On our way: At least half of Edinburgh was rocking after Barr put Hearts in front

Make mine a double: Rudi Skacel struck twice at Hampden Park

Make mine a double: Rudi Skacel struck twice at Hampden Park

For Hibs, that was their cup dream over for another year. Those fans who remained had to endure watching Skacel fire in his second from the edge of the box with 15 minutes remaining, after taking a pass from Santana.

The Hearts supporters chanted 'We want six', but their heroes had done more than enough to ensure a night of celebration in Gorgie and a wake in Leith.

In the final minute referee Thomson sent Fenlon to the stand, for a gesture to the jubilant Hearts fans, to put the lid on a miserable day for Hibs.

Atletico Madrid 4 Valencia 2: Last-gasp Costa grabs lifeline after Falcao brace

Atletico Madrid 4 Valencia 2: Costa grabs late lifeline after Falcao brace

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 19 April 2012

Atletico Madrid moved a step closer
to their second Europa League final in three years as two goals from
Radamel Falcao and further strikes from Miranda and Adrian Lopez gave
them a 4-2 win over Spanish rivals Valencia in tonight's semi-final
first leg.

The hosts started brightly and could
have been ahead even earlier as Diego Alves saved from Diego and Adrian
before the latter showed great persistence to set Falcao up for the
easiest of headers to open the scoring on 18 minutes.

Stunning: Atletico Madrid's Falcao celebrates his strike

Stunning: Atletico Madrid's Falcao celebrates his strike

HEADER HERE

Atletico Madrid: Courtois, Juanfran, Miranda, Dominguez, Filipe Luis, Mario Suarez, Gabi, Turan (Tiago 81), Diego (Perea 88), Adrian (Salvio 89), Falcao. Subs Not Used: Sergio Asenjo, Paulo Assuncao, Koke, Martin.

Booked: Turan, Dominguez.

Goals: Falcao 18, Miranda 49, Adrian 54, Falcao 78.

Valencia: Diego Alves, Ricardo Costa, Rami, Victor Ruiz, Mathieu, Feghouli (Canales 72), Topal, Tino Costa, Jordi Alba (Piatti 72), Soldado, Jonas (Aduriz 80). Subs Not Used: Guaita, Bruno, Maduro, Parejo.

Booked: Feghouli, Diego Alves.

Goals: Jonas 45, Ricardo Costa 90.

Att: 51,000

Ref: Craig Thomson (Scotland).

After that initial burst from Atletico though, Valencia started to gain a foothold in the game and equalised in first-half stoppage time as Jonas swept home Adil Rami's knockdown.

However, 2010 Europa League winners Atletico started the second period in even stronger fashion and scored twice in nine minutes as Miranda took advantage of some slack marking to head home Diego's free-kick before Adrian slotted past Alves from a narrow angle.

Falcao looked to have all but sealed Atletico's place in the final in Bucharest with a sensational strike from outside the area that went in off the bar 12 minutes from time, but Ricardo Costa headed home from another corner with virtually the last touch of the game to give Valencia some hope heading into the return leg at the Mestalla next week.

Atletico's fast starts at home have been a feature of their run to the semi-finals and they pinned Valencia back in the opening stages.

Firstly, Arda Turan wriggled free on the right and his cut-back should have been dispatched from inside the area by Brazilian Diego, but he placed his shot too close to his compatriot Alves and he palmed the ball to safety.

Adrian then also shot straight at the former Almeria keeper, but Atletico deservedly took the lead when Adrian capitalised on Rami's dawdling to cut the ball back from the by-line and Falcao nodded home his ninth goal in Europe this season.

Deadly: Falcao heads in his first

Deadly: Falcao heads in his first

On target: Jonas scores Valencia's first goal

On target: Jonas scores Valencia's first goal

Valencia's first serious attempt on goal
did not come until after the half-hour mark but it proved to be a
warning the Atletico defence did not heed as Rami rose highest to head
Tino Costa's corner just wide.

Jonas fired just over after Roberto Soldado had led a lightening quick
counter-attack but moments later the Brazilian did have the away goal
Valencia craved as he bundled the ball home at the back post after Rami
had won another header from a Costa corner.

Unai Emery's men were only level for three minutes after the interval
though as Miranda was left in acres of space from Diego's floated
free-kick to easily nod past Alves.

Fine strike: Atletico midfielder Adrian Lopez makes it 2-0

Fine strike: Atletico midfielder Adrian Lopez makes it 2-0

Up for it: Atletico's Diego heads the ball

Up for it: Atletico's Diego heads the ball

And the home side had a two-goal cushion soon after as Mehmet Topal
carelessly gave the ball away in midfield and Adrian pounced to fire low
past Alves.

The Valencia keeper was called into action on three occasions to keep
his side in the tie as he made a brilliant double save to deny Filipe
Luis and Arda before turning Diego's free-kick over.

However, there was absolutely nothing Alves could do to stop Falcao's
second with in the 78th minute as the Colombian broke the offside trap,
turned inside onto his left foot and crashed a wonderful strike in off
the underside of the bar.

Atletico, though, continued to defend set-pieces in a poor fashion as
Costa was left all alone to head home deep into stoppage time to keep
Valencia just in the tie.

Safe hands: Valencia's Diego Alves, left, punches clear

Safe hands: Valencia's Diego Alves, left, punches clear

Head coach Diego Simeone celebrates fourth goal

Almost there: Head coach Diego Simeone celebrates fourth goal

Aberdeen 1 Celtic 1: Dons dig in at Pittodrie

Aberdeen 1 Celtic 1: Dons dig in at Pittodrie to halt SPL leaders' long winning run

Celtic's winning run came to an end with a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie against a well-organised Aberdeen.

Anthony Stokes looked to have put the Hoops on course for a 21st consecutive win in domestic competitions when he rounded Jason Brown and slotted the ball home from an acute angle after 28 minutes.

Celtic had not conceded in their previous six matches, but Aberdeen equalised when Gavin Rae's shot took a wicked deflection off Celtic debutant Andre Blackman and flew past Fraser Forster a minute before the break.

Breakthrough: Celtic striker Anthony Stokes slots home the opening goal against Aberdeen at Pittodrie

Breakthrough: Celtic striker Anthony Stokes slots home the opening goal against Aberdeen at Pittodrie

MATCH FACTS

Aberdeen: Brown, Jack, McArdle, Reynolds, Considine, Fyvie (Pawlett 71), Rae, Arnason, Megginson, Fallon (Mawene 79), Vernon.

Subs not used: Langfield, Mackie, Chalali, Magennis, Uchechi.

Goal: Blackman og 44

Booked: Mawene

Celtic: Forster, Lustig (Cha 68), Rogne, Kelvin Wilson, Blackman (Wanyama 59), Forrest, Mulgrew, Ledley, Commons (McGeough 66), Stokes, Hooper.

Subs not used: Zaluska, Brozek, McCourt, Loovens

Goal: Stokes 28

Booked: Lustig, Rogne

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)

Attendance: 13,127

A spirited second-half display from Aberdeen helped them continue their own unbeaten run, which now stretches to 12 games.

Defenders Mikael Lustig and Blackman were both handed first starts for Celtic as the visitors made four changes with Kris Commons and Stokes also included in the starting XI.

Manager Neil Lennon had to do without the services of Ki Sung-yueng and Emilio Izaguirre, who had both failed to return in time from international duty, while Swedish defender Daniel Majstorovic was absent after suffering cruciate ligament damage.

The Dons made only one change from the team which drew 1-1 with St Mirren last weekend, with New Zealander Rory Fallon stepping in to replace Youl Mawene, who dropped to the bench.

Celtic had the first chance of a frantic opening period when Rory McArdle upended James Forrest on the edge of the area and Charlie Mulgrew, who earned his first Scotland cap against Slovenia in midweek, hit the woodwork with a well-struck free-kick.

The hosts carved out their first opening after 11 minutes when Rae found Fallon at the back post, but his header drifted wide as the flag went up for offside in any case.

Familiar sight: The Hoops celebrate taking the lead at Aberdeen

Familiar sight: The Hoops celebrate taking the lead at Aberdeen

The visitors opened the scoring after 28 minutes when Mulgrew, who was enjoying a rare outing in the centre of midfield, threaded the ball to Commons who in turn fed Stokes to round Brown before turning the ball home from an acute angle.

Aberdeen had Brown to thank 10 minutes later when he had to be alert to keep out Stokes' low free-kick after Blackman had been fouled on the edge of the box.

All square: Aberdeen players celebrate their equaliser against the SPL leaders

All square: Aberdeen players celebrate their equaliser against the SPL leaders

The Dons were desperately trying to find a route back into the game and the equaliser came a minute before the break when Scott Vernon fed Rae, whose left-foot shot took a wicked deflection off Blackman to leave Forster with no chance.

Aberdeen made a bright start to the second period when Ryan Jack played an inviting cross into the box for the unmarked Fallon, but the striker was unable to connect.

Tempers began to flare when Aberdeen opted not to give the visitors the ball back after Hooper had received treatment for a head knock, before Stokes was fortunate to avoid punishment for catching Jack with a late challenge.

Kicks for free: Stokes and Fraser Fyvie battle for the ball

Kicks for free: Stokes and Fraser Fyvie battle for the ball

Celtic made their first switch after 59 minutes when Blackman's first appearance came to a premature end and Victor Wanyama was introduced.

The home side should have taken the lead after four minutes later when Rae played in Mitch Megginson, but the youngster dragged his shot wide.

Getting stuck in: Aberdeen midfielder Gavin Rae pays close attention to Celtic's James Forrest

Getting stuck in: Aberdeen midfielder Gavin Rae pays close attention to Celtic's James Forrest

Celtic brought on Dylan McGeouch and Cha Du-ri for Lustig and Commons as they pushed for a second, while Aberdeen were forced to bring on Peter Pawlett after Fraser Fyvie limped off with an injury.

Dons goalkeeper Brown was equal to Stokes' drilled effort and easily held a Hooper header as Lennon's side looked to preserve their winning run.

But the Dons held firm in the closing stages to take a well-earned point and end Celtic's winning run which had stretched back to October.