Connect to share and comment

Football: Celitc in Champions League form - four days late

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Celtic manager Neil Lennon hailed his side after they bounced back from their disappointing Champions League defeat to Juventus with a 6-2 thrashing of Dundee United.

The Hoops' hopes of reaching the last eight of Europe's elite competition were all but ended last Tuesday as the Italian league leaders left Glasgow with a 3-0 advantage ahead of the return leg in two weeks time.

But the Glasgow giants responded in excellent fashion as they came from behind at Celtic Park to score six past United for the first time in 44 years and extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to 18 points over Motherwell, who moved second with a 3-0 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

"It was a fantastic performance," Lennon said. "There is never a good time to play us but after Tuesday night there was an angry team out there.

"I think off the back of Tuesday the players obviously wanted to put in a strong performance. That's not easy and they were hurting but they've picked themselves up very well and some of the football going forward was fantastic.

"We scored six goals but it could have been a lot more really. There was no disgrace in losing to Juventus. I think some of the fallout after the game was typically over the top.

"I thought for long periods of the game on Tuesday we were very good against an excellent side top-heavy with quality, experienced international players.

"Yet we felt the scoreline didn't reflect the performance and I said that to the players and they have gone out there and played like a Champions League team today.

"I know I've got a good team here and I just want them to keep going out there and showing it.

"We've built the team from nothing really and they've gone out and shown that kind of performance."

Efe Ambrose came in for heavy criticism, some of it from team-mate Kris Commons, following the loss to Juve with the defender at fault for two of the Italian's goals.

And the Nigerian looked desperate to make amends as he headed the Hoops level in the 11th minute, just 90 seconds after Stuart Armstrong had fired United in front.

Commons then put Celtic in front with a 21st minute and from that moment on there was no stopping the home side.

Lennon made a point of singling out Ambrose and Commons for praise and said there were no problems between the pair despite the latter criticising the defender's part in Celtic's Champions League defeat.

"There should be special praise for Ambrose as he showed great character today," Lennon said.

"I thought he and Commons were exceptional today in spite of all the talk beforehand so it shows that the dressing room is unified."

Irish striker Stokes scored a double on only his second start of the season after an injury-plagued start to the campaign.

The striker's current deal is up at the end of the season but his manager said the club could take up a one-year option on his contract if he keeps finding the back of the net.

"It's up to Anthony. If he keeps playing like that it's not a difficult decision at all," Lennon said.

str/ps

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130216/football-celitc-champions-league-form-four-days-late