Champions League: Neil Lennon admits Celtic need a 'miracle' to overcome Juventus
Scottish league leaders were beaten 3-0 by the Italian side
Wednesday 13 February 2013
Neil Lennon has to rally his troops for a “miracle” trip to Turin following Celtic's 3-0 Champions League defeat by Juventus at Parkhead last night.
Goals from Alessandro Matri, Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic in the first leg of their last-16 tie all but ended the Hoops' European hopes.
The Celtic boss, surveying the damage and what lies ahead in the return game in fortnight's time, said: "We need a miracle. We have to try to be competitive and try to work our way into the tie but last night was the harsh reality of football at this level.
"We didn't get off to a good start but our reaction was fantastic.
"For 70 or 80 minutes we played fantastic football and were on the front foot.
"We needed a goal and Efe Ambrose had a great chance and that would have galvanised us.
"But the second goal burst the bubble and if you make defensive mistakes at this level you get punished and that's what happened."
Lennon blasted Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco and his officials for their reluctance to punish the Juventus players for what at times resembled a wrestling match in the visitors' box.
The Northern Irishman said: "I would like to ask the Italian journalists what they made of the way Juventus marked our players.
"It looked to me as if they were fouling at every opportunity.
"The referee was warned by our players to keep an eye on it but he ignored our requests time and again.
"Are the rules different in Spain and Italy to what they are in Britain? On that showing they must be.
"We played Juventus in 2001 here and Montero was marking Chris Sutton and the referee warned him but he persisted with it and he gave a penalty and we went on to win 4-3, so what is the difference?
"It is not rugby they are playing it is soccer. There is a way to defend and we do it as fairly as possible."
Juventus manager Antonio Conte, who stayed away from any controversy when told about Lennon's assessment of the referee, was satisfied with his side's performance during what was at times a frantic match.
He said: "Celtic are a good team but we knew this, and there was a fantastic crowd who were like two extra men and that can only drive a team on.
"So it was a difficult match for us, but we kept our heads.
"Celtic played with great intensity but we showed great maturity and overall it was an excellent result for us."
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Latest in Sport
Luis Suarez: Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies from spine injury after doing somersault celebration
Arsenal vs Hull: Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan lead criticism of Arsene Wenger after 'uncomfortable' interview with Jacqui Oatley
Angel Di Maria injury: Manchester United sweat over fitness of record signing as he is in danger of missing Chelsea clash
West Brom vs Manchester United player ratings: Saido Berahino scores highest, whilst Marcos Rojo scores lowest
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world