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  • Neil Lennon: Christie has been superb all season

    Neil Lennon: Christie has been superb all season

    By: Joe Sullivan on 21 Sep, 2019 13:29

  • RYAN Christie showed a cool head when he stepped up to take the spot kick in Thursday night’s 1-1 draw in Rennes.

    The attacking midfielder levelled the game in the 58th minute after M’baye Niang gave home side, Stade Rennais the lead in the first half – also from the spot.

    Christie has taken on the mantle of being penalty-taker in his stride ever since Neil Lennon charged him with the responsibility at the start of the season.

    And the Irishman couldn’t be more pleased about how Christie has reacted to the job. He said: “He’s been fantastic this season. He showed great fortitude to go up and take the penalty, he took it brilliantly and as the game went on he got better and better.

    “He’s been superb for me in all the games so far and he’s become a vital player for us. His style and creativity, his energy and fitness levels are fantastic and it’s infectious for the rest of the players. He’s turning into a very important player.”

    The manager had some words of advice for the players at half time when they were a goal behind in the UEFA Europa League Group E opener against the French side.

    The players responded brilliantly and were unlucky not to take the full three points from the meeting with the Ligue 1 contenders.

    Neil Lennon said of the half-time pep talk: “It’s not down to me, it’s down to the players. We can give them instructions, but whether they take that on board is another thing and then they have to go out there and do it.

    “There is experience there, the likes of Elhamed and Bolingoli have played in Europe before, Fraser has experience and Bayo has got experience when called upon.

    “And then we’ve got the core boys, so there’s a good balance of experience and quality in there. It’s a good start, but we need to capitalise on that going forward.

    “It’s very exciting, the players are buying into it and the fans are enjoying what they’re seeing at the minute, but we are only in September.”

    It will be December by the time Group E is decided, and, with FCR Cluj beating group No.1 seeds, Lazio in Romania, the Irishman feels that the outcome is wide open.

    He said: “The four teams are capable of getting out the group. The fact that Cluj beat Lazio didn’t surprise me, all the teams will take points off each other.

    “Our home form is going to be important and we do want to turn this place again into an intimidating place and obviously the fans can play their part in that.

    “Hopefully the players will feed off of that.”

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