CELTIC manager Neil Lennon has praised his players after they racked up their fifth Premiership win in a row at Hamilton yesterday, the first time in nine seasons that they have taken three points from each of their opening five league games.

The victory was a bit of a slog in the end for the champions despite James Forrest’s early opener as they struggled to get their passing game going on the dry Hamilton pitch and in the face of some impressive defending from the home side.

But all that mattered to Lennon was the fact that they kept up their winning run, and subsequently kept the pressure up on the chasing pack.

“It’s a case of three points, a very good performance in difficult conditions, five wins out of five which we haven’t done for a long time at the start of a season, and a third clean sheet in five,” Lennon said.

“We are playing very, very well. The only tinge of regret is we didn’t score [more]. James hit the bar, and you could see with the pitch drying up and the wind, it slowed the pitch right down.

“We have to give credit to Hamilton who set their stall out to be difficult to beat. In terms of being a spectacle, it takes two teams to make a game. We did all the running and there was no anxiety out there at all.

“I’m thrilled. You can see how difficult it is to do because we haven’t done it for a decade so that’s a brilliant start to the season. As I sit here, we’re six points clear, which puts pressure on everyone else already.”

Lennon was particularly pleased with his wide men, debutant Mohamed Elyounoussi and goalscorer Forrest.

“(Elyounoussi) had a really good hour," he said.

"He hasn’t had a lot of football recently, but he looked fit and fresh, the good player we thought he was going to be,” he said.

“Obviously as we go on we’re hoping he’s going to improve.

“I thought (Forrest) was our biggest threat all day. His pace, the effort that hit the bar, his running power where he pulls one back for Odsonne (Edouard) and he was unlucky miscontrolling it.

“He was creating chances and was a threat all day. He scored another brilliant goal, and his run for it was great. It’s a great ball in from Mo who had a very good debut.

“That’s James on seven already and we’re only in mid-September. It’s a great return already. Brilliant player, absolutely brilliant.”

Despite the defeat, Hamilton manager Brian Rice was upbeat about his side’s performance on the day.

"I could say I was disappointed not to take anything from it, but we took lots from it,” he said.

"My biggest concern was not having enough belief to go toe-to-toe with Celtic and I saw today that we had that to a man.

"To lose an early goal against Celtic was criminal and suicidal but the response I got was immense. I told them it was easy to capitulate and fall apart but we didn't do that.

"We stuck by one another, we kept to our shape and we kept to the game plan - keep in the game as long as can, frustrate Celtic and I'll freshen it up early in the second-half and we'll have a bit more of a go.

"We did that and I don't think anyone could say we didn't try and get the goal back.”