Neil LENNON believes his Celtic have hit top form in time for their crucial Europa League clash with Atletico Madrid at Parkhead on Wednesday.
The rejuvenated Hoops go into the penultimate Group I game with five straight wins following the 5-0 thrashing of St Mirren.
Celtic are in third place behind the Spanish club and Italian outfit Udinese with five points from four games but could go top of the table with a win.
Having watched striker Gary Hooper help himself to a hat-trick against the Pars, Lennon looked ahead to the Atletico clash, saying: “It is a game we can’t afford to lose. A draw might not be enough but if we win it, it puts us in a great position. We have picked up five wins in a row now and we are in good form.
“The players are in the habit of winning games and that will give the whole squad a shot in the arm.”
Much-maligned striker Georgios Samaras inspired Celtic after opening the scoring in the fourth minute when he capitalised on slack defending by the visitors. And after Hooper had secured the match ball with three goals which exemplified his penalty box prowess, 18-year-old Dylan McGeouch, on for James Forrest, scored his first goal for the club in the 72nd minute with a wonderful solo effort.
Lennon shared the praise around as he welcomed his side’s return to form. “What is pleasing me is that we are finding our form and people like Beram Kayal, Victor Wanyama, Daniel Majstorovic and Joe Ledley are playing consistently well. The strikers are scoring goals too, so all the ingredients are there for a good run now.”
St Mirren’s woeful defending early in the game left them two goals down after only eight minutes, making their task all but impossible. However, boss Danny Lennon will not be returning to the drawing board.
“I won’t change my philosophy whatsoever,” he said. “It is our football that has got us where we are at this time.
“We have had a fantastic season and we are playing football in the way I feel it should be played but that has got to come on the back of a solid foundation in terms of defending.”