O'Neill refuses to blame Juninho after Celtic defeat

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The Independent Football

The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, yesterday defended Juninho after a disappointing show in the 3-0 Champions' League Group F loss to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, yesterday defended Juninho after a disappointing show in the 3-0 Champions' League Group F loss to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

The Brazilian struggled to get into the game and was unable to do much to hurt the Ukrainian side. Juninho accepted that he had let his team-mates down but his manager was refusing to point the finger at him.

"The expectations on his arrival were high but asking him to win games on his own is a big ask. It will take time for him to settle in and he has been out of action for a little while but he will be excellent for us in the final third," O'Neill said. "He came here and is trying to get match fit at league level. I am very hopeful of him being a success."

O'Neill admitted his players had been "punching above their weight" which made it difficult for them to progress in Europe.

"It doesn't mean that if you spend £200m then you will automatically win the Champions' League because that doesn't happen as we've seen," he said. "But if you spend £200m then you will have the better players than if you are unable to spend that kind of money and a better chance of being successful."

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