McIntyre: Players deserved better
By: Mark Henderson on 07 Sep, 2012 12:25
DESPITE turning in an excellent performance, Celtic´s NextGen side were left with no reward from their opening match of the tournament against Sporting Lisbon.
The young Hoops were beaten 2-1 by the talented Portuguese outfit at Firhill last night in front of a terrific turn out of supporters.
Denny Johnstone had fired the youths ahead in the first half but the visitors restored parity on the stroke of half-time through Luri Medeiros.
Recovering impressively from that blow, the Bhoys dominated after the interval but were undone by Luis Cortez´s unstoppable strike from distance 12 minutes from time.
While naturally disappointed to not collect at least a share of the spoils, Tommy McIntyre, Head of Celtic´s Pro Academy, couldn’t fault his players´ efforts.
"Obviously we are disappointed as I felt we dominated the second half, and in the first half we scored a great goal," he told the official website in an exclusive interview.
"They are a top side and they have shown that, but I thought we matched them and bettered them in the second half.
"Key decisions possibly changed the game. We could have been at half-time 1-0 up and we lost a goal in the last 30 seconds so we then go in at 1-1.
"But in the second half I thought we came out, played the better football. I thought we dominated the game and we had one or two chances but we need to be a bit more clinical.
"The players were excellent in the second half. It was as good as I have seen them playing. I thought we cut them open, pressed them and nullified their flowing football of the first half.
"There were some really big performances there for us and I´m sure the players will take a lot from that. They are disappointed and so are we. But if they play like that they won´t be far away."
Along with Sporting, the young Celts will also face Aston Villa and PSV Eindhoven in a challenging yet exciting group.
They will contest their next match against the English Premier League outfit in less than two weeks time at Villa Park.
Applauded off the pitch by an appreciative Hoops support at Firhill, the youths will go into that game with plenty of self-belief despite the defeat.
"It was a great experience for us – it really is," added McIntyre. "As much as we were disappointed, this is the first game of hopefully more than six.
"I think it´s good for the fans to come and it´s great for the players, and they gave them a great response.
"I think they enjoyed seeing a lot of the stuff, particularly in the second half. The players are naturally disappointed but delighted because of the fans coming in and I thought it was a great reception from the supporters and the players love that and build on that."