NEIL LENNON admitted he was “surprised” by his player’s performance in the 1-1 draw with Nice in Lyon last night.
Celtic were playing their first game in 131 days following their 5-0 win over St Mirren at Parkhead in the first week in March just before football went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Patryk Klimala levelled a first-half effort from Kasper Dolberg and Lennon expressed his delight at his team’s application in the opening game of the Veolia Trophy. They will now face hosts Lyon – and old fans’ favourite Moussa Dembele – tomorrow evening.
They will bring down the curtain on their pre-season preparations in the French capital against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night.
The Hoops boss, though, was less than convinced by the VAR call that wiped out an early effort from Odsonne Edouard that was wrongly called for offside.
However, Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I’m delighted with all the players, I thought first-half we were outstanding at times.
“Considering we hadn’t played for almost five months, technically, physically, tactically the players were really on it.
“It really surprised me how well we played and with a bit of luck we could have won the game comfortably, so that’s a great start.
“It’s a testament to all the work the players have been doing over the last few weeks.
“Even with VAR I’m still not convinced it’s the right decision. I thought it was the challenge from the Nice player that put Odsonne in.
“It was just the culmination of a great start for us because we looked really threatening and with a bit more care in the final third, which will come, we carved out some great openings and looked really promising on the counter-attack.”
The Parkhead chief added: “Disappointing for the goal, but you’re not going to get everything right first game back, so, hopefully, that’s a good marker for us for the rest of this trip in France.”
The defence was punished for backing off Nice’s Danish striker Kasper Dolberg as he cut in from the left and far too easily worked his way past Christopher Jullien, James Forrest, Jeremie Frimpong and Kristoffer Ajer before slotting in a fine shot beyond the stranded Scott Bain.