Sunday 8 December 2019

'Spoiled kids' put Lennon in foul mood

Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon accused some of his Celtic players of "behaving like spoiled kids" after their shock 3-2 Scottish Communities League Cup final defeat by St Mirren at Hampden.

Since taking over as Buddies boss in 2010, Danny Lennon had watched his side fail to take a point or even score a goal in their eight previous games against the champions, but on an afternoon of high drama they overcame overwhelming odds to book their place in the March 17 final against Hearts.

Debutant Esmael Goncalves, the 21-year-old Portuguese striker who last week signed on loan, gave Saints the lead in the eighth minute, but that was cancelled out by Gary Hooper a minute from half-time.

Buddies 'keeper Craig Samson saved Charlie Mulgrew's penalty four minutes after half-time and things got worse for Mulgrew in the 83rd minute as he handled a Gary Teale cross inside the area, which allowed former Celtic man Paul McGowan to score from the spot before former Rangers striker Steven Thompson grabbed a third.

Mulgrew ended a desperate afternoon by scoring with the last kick of the match, but it was not enough to prevent Celtic slumping to their third successive defeat at the national stadium following last year's Scottish Communities League Cup final loss to Kilmarnock and a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat against Hearts.

And after seeing hopes of a domestic treble ended, Lennon was scathing of his side's efforts and their mentality. "I'm bitterly disappointed with that performance," said a frustrated Lennon. "It was soulless, it lacked intensity, desire and will to win, all the attributes this team has shown over the last six to nine months.

"That was an impersonation of a team that I know. There is not one player, maybe with the exception of Hooper, that would get pass marks today. There was a lack of discipline in our shape and play. I thought we were defensively awful, the decision making was poor and the there was a lack of quality in the final third. Some of them behaved like spoiled kids out there.

"The treble is gone, we have only ourselves to blame. The criticism is going to come our way and rightly so."

Lennon was enraged that Mulgrew decided to try to place his spot-kick. "I am sick of us missing penalties. I am sick of it.

"Charlie Mulgrew is the best dead-ball player I've seen for a long, long time, certainly in Scotland, and he is one of the best in Britain. I was amazed he side-footed it."

• Stephen Hunt made his return from injury for Wolves on Saturday, however it was not enough to prevent them from losing 2-1 at home to Blackpool in the Championship.

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