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  • Neil Lennon: I’m delighted with disciplined win over Sarajevo

    Neil Lennon: I’m delighted with disciplined win over Sarajevo

    By: Joe Donnelly on 17 Jul, 2019 22:31

  • CELTIC progressed to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League with a comfortable 2-1 win over FK Sarajevo at Paradise tonight (Wednesday). And Neil Lennon hailed his side's discipline in what was ultimately a routine victory over two legs.  

    A comprehensive performance ensured the Hoops moved on to the next stage of Europe’s top tournament, having defeated the Bosnia and Herzegovinian outfit 5-2 on aggregate.

    “Tonight was an excellent performance against a very good side, particularly so early in the competition,” said Neil Lennon. “My only bugbear is conceding the goal. Callum was outstanding, him and Scott Brown both were in the midfield. I’m delighted with what the players are giving me at the minute.

    “Progression at this stage isn’t a relief, it’s satisfaction. We handled Sarajevo very well with what must be considered a bit of makeshift back four. Next week, we’ll be fitter, a week sharper, and players like Leigh and Christopher Jullien will be in a better place match fitness-wise.”

    The manager explained that winger Lewis Morgan’s second-half substitution was a cautionary measure, and described the aggressive nature of the opposition’s tackles over both ties as agricultural.

    Nonetheless, Celtic played with typical discipline from back to front, and now look forward to their second qualifying round tie against Estonian side Nomme Kalju. The first leg will be staged at Paradise next week, while the away encounter takes place the following week, on Tuesday, July 30.

    The manager added: “The last thing you want at this stage is any kind of injury. We’ll also have Mikey Johnston back for the next game and maybe Shved and Bayo. It’s always important for us to keep our discipline. That’s a big factor for us and we don’t want to lose anyone for the upcoming games.

    “We know how fraught these games can be, and I was really pleased with the level of performance overall. It’s not perfect, by any means, but I'm delighted with where we're at at this stage.

    “When we conceded, we lost a bit of momentum but that was our own doing. That was my only sense of annoyance and that’s something we can improve on going forward.”

    The game against FK Sarajevo also marked Leigh Griffiths’ return to competitive football, having come off the bench for Odsonne Edouard on the 79th minute. He came on to a rapturous reception, and the manager continues to be imrpessed by his progress on and off the pitch. 

    “Leigh isn’t fully there but he’s in a good place and we will get more from him as we go on,” added Neil Lennon. “He looked good on Saturday for an hour and he’s hungry to play. He’s missed a long time, and worked really hard towards the end of last season. He now looks like he’s going to make a significant contribution this season.”

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