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'De Bruyne-esque' - Celtic boss Lennon compares Christie to Man City star

23:50 GMT 03/02/2020
Ryan Christie, Celtic
Having played a starring role off the bench against The Accies at the weekend, the Scotland international earned high praise from his manager

Neil Lennon was glowing in his assessment of Ryan Christie after Celtic's 4-1 win against Hamilton Academical at the weekend, comparing him to Kevin De Bruyne for the ball which broke the deadlock.

Reduced to 10 men after Jamie Hamilton was sent off for bringing down Leigh Griffiths, the Accies were still clinging on for a 1-1 draw with just over 10 minutes to go. A neat assist from Christie set up Christopher Jullien for Celtic's second, which was quickly followed by two more goals as their opponents crumbled late on.

Speaking to Celtic TV after the match, Lennon said: "His energy's fantastic, his enthusiasm's fantastic but more than anything it's his quality.

"The quality of the ball for the second goal is De Bruyne-esque. Having Ryan back after being out for almost a month is such a bonus for us.

"Tom Rogic came on and did a great job, Jonny Hayes did a great job, but Ryan's having a fantastic season and we'll see more of him as it goes on."

Celtic's win sent them seven points clear at the summit of the Scottish Premiership after Rangers were held to a 0-0 draw by Aberdeen at Ibrox. Steven Gerrard's side have a game in hand on their bitter rivals, but momentum has slowed in recent weeks.

Christie, meanwhile, has been instrumental in Celtic's pursuit of their ninth consecutive league title, supplying 10 goals and nine assists along the way. 

Asked about the Hoops' title chase after the game, Christie said: "Over the last couple of years, that's what has helped us drive towards the finishing line – that mentality of one game at a time."

"We knew it was a big game [against Hamilton] and we were desperate to get the three points. But there are so many games to go that we need to keep churning out victories, hopefully, and see how far it takes us."

Even more impressive is the fact that it was Christie's first game back after undergoing groin surgery at the turn of the year. "It felt amazing to get back out there," he said.

"I've been itching to get back in about it. The boys have been doing so well up until now but it was nice to come on and help to get a victory.

"That's my job, that's what I've got to do. Especially in games like that one when it's a bit stuffy at 1-1. You have to come off the bench and try to do something.

"To be fair, Jonny Hayes came off the bench and did very well as did Tom Rogic. That's what we aim to do, that's what the gaffer wants us to do. When we do it, we're happy."