Neil Lennon apologises to Celtic supporters after shock defeat

First time in 15 years the Scottish champions have exited the Champions League so early

Neil Lennon promised to cull the uncommitted after Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers. Photograph: PA

Neil Lennon promised to cull the uncommitted after Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers. Photograph: PA

 

Neil Lennon promised to cull the uncommitted after Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers 2-1 by Ferencvaros on Wednesday night.

Ryan Christie’s deflected strike in the 53rd minute at a sodden Parkhead cancelled out a first-half opener from David Siger but the Hoops were stunned when, against the run of play, Tokmac Nguen scored a breakaway winner in the 74th minute for the Hungarians.

It is the first time in 15 years that the Scottish champions have gone out of the Champions League so early and they will now look for the Europa League for their continental salvation.

However, an angry Lennon said he would now look to make changes as he revealed some players had told him they want to go.

The Celtic boss said: “There are some players who may want to leave. They have made inroads into that in the last six months or so.

“So if they don’t want to be here, we have to do something about it. If they are making waves to leave the club they are obviously not committed.

“We want players committed to the club. I am not going to go into it but I am putting it out there because it has been bugging me for a long long time.

“I am angry, frustrated, disappointed. All those and more. We had enough chances to win the game comfortably. There is no excuses. It is on me and I have to accept the consequences of that.

“We have to apologise to the supporters and look to make the best of what we have got for the rest of the season. The game was easier than I thought it was going to be. We had really good control.

“They scored early but I thought we started well in the second half and scored, hit the bar and we only have ourselves to blame. I have to take responsibility. It is the first time in 15 years we have gone out so early, that is down to me.”

Lennon also explained that strikers Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala who started on the bench were “not match fit”.

By contrast, Ferencvaros boss Sergei Rebrov was delighted with the victory. He said: “We played against the strongest team we have played in Europe.

“Maybe they didn’t shoot enough. I’m very glad for my players. We tried to play to our plan. The early goal helped us. I was really surprised they didn’t play with a recognised striker because they had two strikers on the bench.

“Their plan was to find fast players between the lines. Most of the time we were defending but we didn’t give Celtic too many chances.

“They had some problems in defence. We tried to go for counter-attacks. Tokmac is very fast and he used it for the winning goal.”

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