Half-time team talk from Lenny se­cured win, in­sists Ajer

Evening Times - - LADBROKES PREMIERSHI­P -

KRISTOF­FER Ajer has re­vealed how a half-time team talk from in­terim man­ager Neil Len­non en­sured that Celtic edged out Kil­marnock – and pledged to help the triple tre­ble con­tenders to main­tain their sec­ond-half per­for­mance level for the re­main­der of the sea­son.

Steve Clarke’s side per­formed su­perbly in the open­ing 45 min­utes of the Lad­brokes Premier­ship match at Park­head on Satur­day and Chris Burke, Liam Millar and Conor McAleny all forced good saves from Scott Bain.

But Ajer, who was for­tu­nate not to gift Ea­monn Bro­phy a goal in the first half when he was robbed of pos­ses­sion, ex­plained how Len­non had ad­dressed the prob­lems the home team were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and en­sured they picked up all three points.

A sec­ond-half Jozo Simunovic goal meant the Glas­gow club, who can win all three do­mes­tic tro­phies for the third sea­son run­ning in the 2018/19 cam­paign, re­mained nine points clear of Rangers with just three games re­main­ing.

“We knew of course that Kil­marnock would make it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for us,” he said. “They’ve had a few fan­tas­tic sea­sons and I think they did re­ally well against us.

“We were a bit all over the place in the first half. The gaffer had a great talk at half­time and I think our sec­ond half was a lot bet­ter. It was about get­ting the team more com­pact and a lit­tle bit more en­ergy in our of­fen­sive play. I think it re­ally worked out well.”

Asked if it was hard to keep per­form­ing at a high level near the end of an­other long sea­son, Ajer said: “I don’t think it’s dif­fi­cult at all. You play for so much at the end of the sea­son. That’s why you play the whole sea­son – to be in the po­si­tion we are now.

“You just have to keep focused. We need to look to per­form well against Aberdeen and in our last few games of the sea­son. Hope­fully we can stay focused and get the re­sults we want.”

Mean­while, Ajer ad­mit­ted he was en­joy­ing his blos­som­ing cen­tre-half part­ner­ship with match-win­ner Simunovic – the pair have helped Celtic keep clean sheets in their last five games – but wasn’t tak­ing his place in the first team for granted.

“Jozo and I have per­formed re­ally well in re­cent weeks,” he said. “How­ever, at Celtic you’re never bet­ter than your last game.” Matthew Lind­say

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