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  • Manager: Bhoys had to show character in League Cup test

    Manager: Bhoys had to show character in League Cup test

    By: Tony Connelly on 17 Aug, 2019 19:15

  • NEIL Lennon admitted his side were not at their best in Celtic’s narrow 2-1 win against Dunfermline in the League Cup but the Hoops manager praised his players for the character they showed to overcome a difficult mental test.  

    Celtic began the defence of the League Cup at Paradise against a hardworking and well organised Dunfermline side who took the game into extra-time.

    The Hoops initially took the lead thanks to a wonderful goal from Mikey Johnston but Stevie Crawford’s team grabbed a shock equaliser and managed to keep Celtic at bay for the remainder of the 90 minutes.

    The fans in Paradise were audibly frustrated as the referee signalled for extra-time but James Forrest came to Celtic’s rescue minutes before penalties would have ensued with the winning goal.

    Neil Lennon admitted he was relived to progress to the quarter-final as he credited his players for their mentality throughout a difficult afternoon.

    “I’m delighted,” he said. “We dominated the game. Dunfermline scored with one attempt on goal and that happens in cup football. I’m really proud of the players because they had to show a lot of character today. I know some of them weren’t at their best but that’s totally understandable.

    “I’ve been in that situation myself after a Champions League game. You can be a bit leggy, a bit fatigued but we dominated the game and had loads of chance. We didn’t deserve the game to go to extra time but we showed a lot of character to go on and win the game. I’m delighted that we’re in the next round and I’m delighted with the character and patience the players showed.”

    The Hoops manager acknowledged the frustrations of Celtic supporters while highlighting the importance of showing resilience against well organised defences.

    “I told the players I was proud of them,” said the manager. “They’ve come through a really stiff test of character, a real examination, and they’ve come through the other side. They won’t see it the way I see it. I played in a great Celtic side and we had days like that. I remember a penalty shoot-out against Partick Thistle that went to 10-8 or something like that and they were a Championship team at the time. They’ve come through a tough examination physiologically rather than a football one.

    “It was a really good test but you have to give Dunfermline a lot of credit. They defended brilliantly and came here with a game plan. I didn’t think we struggled but we didn’t cut them open as much as we would have liked. When you have a block of 10 sometimes it’s hard to break down.”

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