• Champions League

Lennon angry at ref, knows miracle is needed

ESPN staff
February 12, 2013

Celtic "need a miracle" to progress in their Champions League last-16 clash with Juventus after the Italians ran out 3-0 winners in the first leg in Glasgow, according to manager Neil Lennon.

Despite dominating the match for large periods, Celtic could not convert any of their chances and were punished on the counter as Juve demonstrated a clinical finishing touch in front of goal.

Strikes from Alessandro Matri, Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic consigned Celtic to a heavy home defeat that leaves them all-but out of the competition, as Lennon acknowledged.

"We need a miracle,'' he told ITV1. "But it's the harsh reality of Champions League football and some of my young players will learn a huge lesson tonight.

"I thought for 70-odd minutes, until the second goal, we were by far the better side - but you can't give away goals like we gave away, sloppy.''

Matri opened the scoring in the third minute after a calamitous error by Efe Ambrose, just back from African Nations Cup duty with winners Nigeria, while Marchisio and Vucinic killed the game off in the final quarter-of-an-hour.

"Efe was poor for the first goal but we had good chances to equalise,'' Lennon said. "Then we switched off defensively for the second goal and the third goal was poor.''

One legitimate objection Lennon could have was over the way Juventus - and Stephane Lichtsteiner in particular - defended corners. The Swiss player was booked after tangling with Gary Hooper but continued grappling with the striker and also Ambrose and Scott Brown.

"I'd like to ask the referee, is the game different in Spain or Italy?'' Lennon said. "Every time one of my players tried to move he was held. He should have given a penalty on at least two occasions.''

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