Monday 18 December 2017

Lennon rues missed chances as Hoops held

St Johnstone 1 Celtic 1

Celtic's manager Neil Lennon reacts to his side's performance against St Johnstone
Celtic's manager Neil Lennon reacts to his side's performance against St Johnstone

Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon was left bemused after Celtic contrived to draw with St Johnstone in their Scottish Premier League encounter at McDiarmid Park.

In the 37th minute of a first half controlled by the champions, defender Efe Ambrose scored his second goal in two games after costing the Hoops twice in their 3-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg defeat against Juventus a week ago.

The hosts made a better fist of the second half and had the ball in the net twice through Steven MacLean and then Fraser Wright, only to see both efforts ruled out for offside.

However, with eight minutes remaining, substitute Nigel Hasselbaink curled a fantastic shot past Fraser Forster to stun the Hoops.

With Motherwell losing 1-0 at home to Dundee United, the Hoops stretched their lead at the top of the table over the Steelmen to 19 points.

"The first 45 minutes was the best football I have seen under my time here," said Lennon. "On a glue pot of a pitch, the football, the pace, the movement was exceptional and it is a travesty we haven't won because in that 45 minutes alone would have won two games. But for the goalkeeper it should have been six.

"We had chance after chance, we cut them open at will and I knew half-time gave them a chance to regroup. Sometimes it is hard to replicate the tempo of the game.

"But even our reaction after their goal was very good and I'm sitting here scratching my head as to why we haven't won the game.

"Their 'keeper Alan Mannus had one of those games."

Irish Independent

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