Lennon looking for miracle

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted his side need a miracle to remain in the UEFA Champions League after a 3-0 home defeat to Juventus in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Last Updated: 13/02/13 at 09:50 Post Comment

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

The Scottish side were made to pay for two defensive blunders and a failure to make the most of their own opportunities as a brave and determined display ultimately counted for nothing against the Serie A leaders.

Alessandro Matri opened the scoring in the opening moments after a blunder from Efe Ambrose, with the defender again at fault for Mirko Vucinic's late third, with Claudio Marchisio also on target.

Celtic's European adventure looks to be over for another season ahead of the second leg in Turin on March 6 and Lennon told Sky Sports: "It is going to take a miracle.

"We will compete, we will try and score, we will try and make the tie competitive but it is a very tall order now.

"I am bitterly disappointed, I think the scoreline flatters Juventus, but that is the harsh reality of football at this level.

"We were excellent for 75-80 minutes. The second goal is a sucker-punch but the third goal was really poor from our point of view. Some of our football tonight was excellent and I didn't think that there were three goals between the teams."

The Celtic boss was particularly unimpressed with the performance of Spanish referee Alberto Mallenco, with the official doing little to stop regular incidents of wrestling in the Juve box as Celtic prepared to take corners.

"I thought he was poor," Lennon admitted. "I thought he was very pro-Juventus. I was disappointed with his performance to say the least.

"They were being fouled at every occasion. The referee is looking at it. They were putting their arms around players, blocking their runs, trying to pull them down...

"The game must be different in Spain and in Italy from what it is in Britain because you cannot do that in the penalty box because it is a penalty."

Ambrose had played for Nigeria in their Africa Cup of Nations Cup final win over Burkina Faso on Sunday and did not arrive back in Glasgow until the morning of the game, with Lennon admitting selecting the defender had backfired.

"He was poor for the first goal and then he has missed a great chance to make it 1-1," he said.

"Unfortunately for him he has just had one of those nights. I am not sure if it was fatigue or a lack of concentration, but the third goal is very disappointing from Efe's point of view."

Juventus manager Antonio Conte, who stayed away from any controversy when told about Lennon's assessment of the referee, was satisfied with his side's performance during what was at times a frantic match.

He said: "Celtic are a good team but we knew this, and there was a fantastic crowd who were like two extra men and that can only drive a team on.

"So it was a difficult match for us, but we kept our heads.

"Celtic played with great intensity but we showed great maturity and overall it was an excellent result for us."

To find out more about live football on Sky Sports, Click here

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

S

o Brendan is full of sh!t, who'd have thought it eh?

fatbob30
Carroll accuses Rodgers

P

resumably, you wanted to keep the version of Downing that was never seen at Anfield. The one that another manager has managed to re-create. The one you passed over.

badwolf
Rodgers: I wanted to keep Downing

T

he uber commercialisation of the 90s has led to the point where this overly familar, try hard, jolly hockey sticks type fronts up a major football match on a weekly basis. Unlike the great presenters of yesteryear, I doubt he would even recognise the scent of Brut.

mufc phil
Football On TV: Jake Humphrey

Footer 365

Scott Sinclair excited for chance to impress at Aston Villa

Scott Sinclair hopes his loan move to Aston Villa will help kick-start his flagging Premier League career.

Andy Carroll accuses Brendan Rodgers of lying

Andy Carroll has accused Brendan Rodgers of lying to him when he was trying to force him out of Anfield.

Frank Lampard tells Soccer AM that Jose Mourinho would 'love' him back at Chelsea

Frank Lampard has revealed Jose Mourinho would "love" him to return to Chelsea once his playing career is over.

Mail Box

'Costa Is A Bad Man. Suarez Is Not'

That's quite some claim. And yes, unfortunately we are still talking about this. We also have mails on Ronaldinho, possible replacements for Yaya Toure and more...

Red Mist Better Than Calculated Costa?

Hmmm. We're not sure about this argument - one Mailbox says Luis Suarez is easier to forgive because he is a little loco. We also have mails on Studge and more...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company