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  • Neil Lennon: This was a landmark night for Celtic

    Neil Lennon: This was a landmark night for Celtic

    By: Paul Cuddihy on 28 Nov, 2019 23:15

  • NEIL Lennon watched his side deliver a comprehensive victory over Rennes to ensure the Hoops will finish as winners of Group E, and the Celtic manager praised his players for the achievement.

    The 3-1 win, courtesy of goals from Lewis Morgan, Ryan Christie and Mikey Johnston, means Celtic are unbeaten after five group-stage games, with 13 points to show for their endeavours. And in delivering European football after Christmas, the Irishman’s team has ensured there is so much to look forward to in 2020.

    Speaking after the win at Celtic Park, Neil Lennon said: “It was an enthralling game. I enjoyed the game from a tactical point of view as well as the team performance.

    “They had some milestones to achieve tonight. Could they go beyond 10 points? Could they win the group? We answered all those questions tonight. Psychologically, it wasn’t an easy game with the circumstances, but we handled the mentality of the game very well.

    “It’s a landmark night for us. We’ve never done it before (winning the group), whether that be Europa League or Champions League. That’s fantastic and it means we can maybe get a better draw for the last 32.

    “What pleased me is the 100 per cent record at home and that sends out a really strong message. We’ve won our home games. We are unbeaten away and domestically playing great. It was important to keep that momentum going.

    “We’ve definitely improved our results and performances (in Europe). There’s a long way to go in the competition, and the last 32 is a long time away but we are excited.

    “We wanted to make inroads in the competition and, so far, mission accomplished. We want to make inroads in the knockout as well. We’ll address that when the time comes, but now we can fully focus on domestic duties, which is a great position to be in after five games.”

    Lewis Morgan, who slotted in to the centre-forward position in place of Odsonne Edouard, opened the scoring after 21 minutes, while Ryan Christie doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time. And Mikey Johnston proved to be a super sub, coming on late in the game and combining brilliantly with Olivier Ntcham before finishing with a strong shot.

    The Celtic manager was pleased with the creative display from his team, while he also praised Fraser Forster, who once again produced a top-class European performance.

    “I’m absolutely delighted for the players,” he said. “They keep setting themselves these milestones and they’re a fantastic bunch. They’re playing very well at the minute.

    “I thought we opened them up well at times, and going forward we are playing very well, while the goalkeeper made a double save which was world-class.

    “Odsonne’s got a niggle and we didn’t want to take any chances with him. We’ll see how he is at the weekend. That performance was without Odsonne and it shows how well we can play.

    “Lewis came in and is a testament to being a really good professional. We’re all very pleased for Lewis. We knew he could do it. Whilst it’s been frustrating for some of them not playing on a regular basis, they kept their fitness at a really high level and they are getting their rewards.

    “We felt that Lewis would bring pace and he’s a really fit lad. He’s getting stronger physically and I’m delighted. It was a great goal he scored and his all-round play was excellent.

    “It was a real mature performance. We scored goals freely against a real good quality side and we've entertained. At this minute we are in a good place, but nothing’s won yet.”

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