Neil Lennon calls on fans after Celtic crash out

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Neil Lennon has asked the Celtic fans to stick behind him after yet another European flop.

The Parkhead side lost 3-1 in their Europa League play-off second-leg game against Swiss side Sion at Stade de Tourbillon last night to go out on the same aggregate scoreline.

In his first European foray as permanent boss last season Lennon's side lost to Braga and Utrecht in their respective Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

The vast majority of Celtic fans, though, backed the Irishman for the remainder of the campaign even though rivals Rangers went on to win the Clydesdale Bank Premier League for the third time in a row.

That bond will be put under strain after last night's result but asked what he would say to fans who are questioning him, the former Celtic skipper replied: "Just stay with the team.

"No-one is more disappointed than myself.

"If there are some disenchanted supporters, we need to put in good performances on a domestic level and get them back on board as quickly as possible."

After a goalless draw in Glasgow it immediately became an uphill battle when Daniel Majstorovic brought down Guilherme Afonso inside the box with less than a minute on the clock.

After the big stopper had been sent off, Pascal Feindouno, who had a trial at Celtic but was too pricey for the Parkhead club, scored from the spot before adding a second after the break.

Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew pulled a goal back but any prospects of a comeback were scuppered when Giovanni Sio restored the two-goal lead.

"Even when their second goal went in the players, more than anybody else, felt they were still in the tie," said Lennon.

"We got the goal and we felt we were going to get the result we wanted but we shot ourselves in the foot for the third goal.

"It is disappointing for me and disappointing for the players."

Lennon is now banking on the possibility of a red tape reprieve.

Sion have five players in their squad - Feindouno, Mario Mutsch and Gabri, Jose Goncalves and Billy Ketkeophomphone - who are, in the eyes of FIFA, ineligible to play in the competition.

Sion's European squad, though, was approved by the Swiss FA who, along with the club, have reportedly been warned by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino about possible sanctions.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport, will rule on the issue next Tuesday.

Asked if he would be comfortable about replacing Sion, Lennon replied: "Yes. We have sent in letters last week and handed one to the delegate.

"There is a hearing on Tuesday and we will know the outcome after that.

"But if clubs are breaking the rules then every club should break the rule."

Sion coach Laurent Roussey was not for discussing the situation.

He said: "I am the trainer. I work every day on the field, that's my job. We achieved our goal and that's it."

Comments