Lennon bashes ‘suicidal’ Celtic

Neil Lennon has slaughtered a ‘suicidal’ Celtic after crashing out of the Champions League against Cluj.

The Celts made a strong start after falling behind 0-1, turning it around to 2-1, with goals from Forrest and Edouard, then disaster struck with captain Brown giving away a penalty due to handball.

Christie then put Celtic back in front, but Cluj levelled the score again, then to only go ahead and score the winner in the dying embers of the game.

“Bitterly disappointed, we didn’t compete in the first 45 minutes at all,” Lennon told the BBC.

“I don’t know where that comes from because that’s not what we wanted the players to do.

“Second half we really had a lot more urgency, a lot more physicality, but goals we conceded were crazy.

“You’ve got to do the basics right, you’ve got to stop crosses, you’ve got to close people down.

“We didn’t do any of that. It was almost like we scored and we wanted to switch off and control the game.

“Even at the start of the game we were way to slow with the ball, way too passive with the tempo. So we gave them a bit of rocket at half-time and we got the response.

“We were 2-1 up, the game’s not over but can we go and get another one?

“We needed that two-goal cushion really, they were always a threat at set plays.

“They were suicidal, the goals we gave away tonight.

“It [the Cluj approach] shouldn’t surprise us, what surprised me was our approach to the game.

“We didn’t work the goalkeeper at all first half and I don’t think we played with any real intensity.

“The first goal – we got a warning before that and then we still didn’t stop the cross.

“If you don’t do the basics well enough then at this level you’ll get punished.

“We’ve only got ourselves to blame really, the game was there for us and we had the lead and we’ve let it slip through our own decision making.

“For us to concede the third goal, we’ve got bodies there and we shouldn’t let the shot away, then Omrani has followed in on the rebound.

“It’s a flick around the corner, we haven’t stopped the shot and then we haven’t followed in on the rebound.

“It’s crazy defending from our point of view.”

“First of all we’ve got to raise the players’ morale. We’re going tp get a bit of criticism and that’s par for the course.

“We’re all very disappointed, we’ve worked very hard to get where we are and we’ve basically thrown it away.

“So, in terms of the defence we’ve got good defenders but for some reason they want to slow the game down.

“I didn’t think we were anywhere near physical enough first half.”

Callum McGregor started at right-back in a move which many fans found strange, but the manager defended his decision.

“People can point at that, but he did set up our equaliser and I thought he had a very good game, I don’t think the left hand side was really the problem tonight.

“The game’s gone, the players will have plenty of regrets about it tonight and we have to do a lot better, particularly at home.

“The way we approached the game in that first half is manna for opposition teams, it’s not acceptable.”

Speaking about Scott Brown, giving away a penalty he said:

“He’s misjudged the ball and he’s made a mistake.

“Over the years you could probably count the amount of mistakes he’s made on one hand, so he’s bitterly disappointed but we’re not making anyone a scapegoat for tonight. It’s a collective effort.

“Now we need to look at the Europa League, obviously make sure we qualify first and obviously take it from there.”