Neil Lennon hailed “exceptional” hat-trick hero after trounced St Johnstone 7-0 with a “perfect” opening-day display.

The Scottish Premiership champions dismantled the Perth men with Christie taking his tally for the season to six.

The 24-year-old’s hat-trick came after Mikey Johnston’s opener, with Olivier Ntcham, Odsonne Edouard and adding to the rout.

“Ryan is playing exceptionally well,” said boss Lennon.

“His first and third goals were sublime finishes and we’re hoping we see more of that as the season goes on, allied to all the other attributes he has.”

The win ensured start the campaign at the top of the table as they began their bid for nine titles in a row in style.

Lennon hailed what he called an “all-round good performance” and said he could not ask any more of a side who have started their season with qualification wins.

“It’s been a great day and while we’re not getting carried away, it was an outstanding team performance,” he said.

“That’s a really good marker to put down for the rest of the season. I’m just pleased with the relentlessness of the performance, the will to score goals. Our reaction to losing the ball was great as well.”

Christie, who has scored three goals in qualifying so far, was quick to praise Lennon for his improvement in the attacking third.

“I need to help get us on the scoresheet by assists or scoring them,” he said. “The gaffer has given me that opportunity to step in and make that impact.

“I set my goals target at the start of the season, but I’ll keep that to myself.”

Christie graphic

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