Loss 'no disgrace for Celtic' - Lennon

Juventus 2-0 Celtic (Agg: 5-0)
Published Thursday, 07 March 2013
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Neil Lennon says he's proud of Celtic's players, staff and supporters after their impressive Champions League run came to end against Juventus.

Loss 'no disgrace for Celtic' - Lennon
Celtic players applaud fans after the final whistle. (© Getty)

The Northern Irish manager saw his side go into Wednesday night's last-16 game in Turin already trailing by three goals from the first leg - and the lead was to prove unassailable.

Alessandro Matri opened the scoring for the Serie A champions after 24 minutes before Fabio Quagliarella notched up the second in the 65th minute, punishing the Hoops for a lack of concentration and snuffing out any lingering hopes of a comeback.

But Lurgan man Lennon says the side's European adventure this season, which included a memorable win over Barcelona, proves they can compete with the best.

"The handicap that we have is that we are probably £100m behind most of the other squads in the last 16 of the Champions League," he explained.

There is no disgrace in being short. Juventus have a great work ethic, they might not have the flamboyance of Barcelona but they work so hard for each other and they have a threat going forward.

Neil Lennon

"We have proved that you can play in the SPL and compete in the Champions League this season, the difference is the bigger clubs have significantly more spending power, and stronger squads. You just have to look at Juve's bench last night, how strong it was."

Lennon added that the better team had won, with a gap in "quality" making the difference over the two legs.

"The difference is quality in the final third," he continued. "We had good chances again but we didn't take them. We played really good football, had good spells in either half and we missed what I think were very good chances to get back into the tie.

"Quality counts and that was the difference between the two teams over both games."

As attention now turns to retaining the Scottish title, Lennon reiterated his belief that it could be difficult to retain some of his star players after the European exit - with the team facing three qualifying rounds in order to reach the group stages of the competition next season.

"While I hope the players learn we won't know until we come back into the competition next July," said the Parkhead boss.

"But it is going to be very difficult (to keep them). Some of them want to progress their careers, maybe out of Scotland and it is difficult to stop that progression.

"We are doing our job, bringing these young players in and developing them and hopefully selling them on for significantly more than we brought them in for, but we will have a look at the end of the season."

© UTV News
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1 Comments
Mairtin in Ard mhacha wrote (652 days ago):
Well done Neil and Celtic supporters,showing yet again how to behave when abroad,outclassed this time but this team has gave us some memorable games in Europe this year.
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