NEIL LENNON was delighted with the way his players finished the job in Tallinn last night, defeating Nomme Kalju 2-0 on the night and 7-0 on aggregate to progress to the third round of Champions League Qualifiers where they will play Romanian Champions CFR Cluj – with the first leg being away from home in Transylvania next midweek.
CFR Cluj got a 2-2 draw in Israel last night to see off Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-2 on aggregate and will provide a stiffer challenge for Celtic than either Sarajevo or Nomme Kalju. Celtic though will be firm favourites to reach the Play-off rounds and Neil Lennon will have his players fully focused and ready for the challenge.
Last night, speaking to Celtic TV, the Celtic manager gave his thoughts on the match which saw Christopher Jullien make his debut, Anthony Ralston get a run-out in the troubesome right back position and Maryan Shved score his first goal for the club. Olivier Ntcham also put in a performance that reminded folk that he is a decent player, capable of shining in a Celtic jersey – if he can be bothered.
“There certainly wasn’t any complacency tonight. We started very well and got a good goal early on which really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Lenny said.
“We had good control over the course of the game, we scored another great goal towards the end. I thought we could have had a few more, but I can’t ask any more than what the players are giving me at the minute.
“The squad is looking a lot better, we rested some important players. Christopher Jullien got his debut, Shved was great, and Lewis Morgan had another good run out. I thought Ntcham was outstanding tonight, Tony had a competent game, and, of course, Craig Gordon got 90 minutes under his belt. All of that gives everyone confidence going forward.”
Next up for Lennon and his Celtic side is Flag Day on Saturday when St Johnstone visit Celtic Park and the league campaign gets underway. Then the focus returns to these Champions League qualifiers.
“We’ve got the away tie first which we know won’t be easy. They had a tough tie against Maccabi and they prevailed. Cluj are experienced at this level and they have an experienced manager,” Lennon said, as reported on the official Celtic site.
“Going into the tie, we should be in good spirits. However, we’ve got the domestic campaign to kick off as well. We’ll obviously have to negotiate that first on Saturday against St Johnstone, and then we’ll travel to Cluj next week.
“Flag Day is such a great occasion, it’s a great day for the home support, and we’ll hopefully get the domestic campaign off to a similar start as we have done in the Champions League.”
You can watch Neil’s interview with Celtic TV via the club’s You Tube Channel below…
Sandman has given us his latest Definitive Player Ratings as he casts his eye over the Celtic performance in Tallinn last night, it’s accurate, it’s often hilarious and it’s always worth checking out – see HERE.
And David Potter has given us his post match thoughts too. “The reality starts now. We must be ready for it,” he states, looking ahead to the tougher two rounds that Celtic must negotiate, starting against CFR Cluj and then probably an even harder tie, if we are to reach the Group Stages. Read David’s thoughts HERE.
Watching the action on Celtic TV yesterday was Willie Wallace, it would have been an early morning start for the Australia based Lisbon Lion. Posting on Facebook Willie gave his post match thoughts too.
“Good result for Celtic in the European Cup prelims. We can go forward with confidence to the two games that would take us into the European Cup proper against the best in Europe. Looking forward to a good start in the League this weekend. Hail! Hail!” Willie wrote.