NEIL LENNON remained remarkably upbeat after Celtic’s second defeat at Parkhead in five days following his side’s 3-1 Europa League Group H loss to AC Milan last night.

The setback comes swiftly after the 2-0 collapse to their Ibrox visitors in the Premiership at the weekend.

The Hoops boss has told his players to ignore the hysteria that follows such important back-to-back reversals – and he admitted he saw signs of recovery that could launch the club towards another successful campaign.

His positive and optimistic outlook will be put to the test when the players travel to Pittodrie on Sunday for their High Noon showdown against dangerous Aberdeen who warmed up for the match with a 4-2 victory over Hamilton Accies on Monday.

There will be criticisms following a second consecutive defeat, but Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “They have to ignore it. That’s what it is, it’s hysteria.

“We have played two really good teams and lost both games, but we know we will get better.

“The two first-half goals are definitely avoidable, especially the first one. It was the first real attack Milan had in the game. We need to be far tighter and more secure than that.

“They weren’t easy goals, they had to work for them, but it was a header in our box eight yards out. We should be dealing with that. We had enough bodies back to deal with a counter-attack at the second goal. Poor, soft. But our reaction was very good in the second-half.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed we lost. I thought we deserved something out of the game against a very good side. In the second-half, I thought we were a lot better, more like ourselves. Our final ball let it down and that has to be better at this level.

“We gave away two soft goals from our point of view. I thought we started the game quite brightly. I thought we played very well in the second-half. It’s encouraging. It was markedly better than the weekend.

“There were really good signs that they are getting up to speed. People can be critical of the team’s performance if they want, that’s fine, and they definitely deserved criticism at the weekend because we weren’t at our best.

“But there were a lot of signs for me that we will have another good season.

“In the second-half, we were terrific. The third goal was academic. We were chasing the game, but the reaction from Saturday gave us a lot to be encouraged about.

“Our body language and energy was so much better. They showed real personality. I know what we’ve got in there and we will get better.”

After going in two goals adrift, the Hoops were thrown a lifeline when Mohamed Elyounoussi nodded in a right-wing corner-kick from Ryan Christie in the 77th minute.

They surged forward in the hope of gaining at least a point, but they were undone deep in stoppage time when the Italians snatched a killer third.

The Hoops gaffer ditched 3-5-2 for the second period where his early substitutes Christie and Elyounoussi had an impact after replacing Leigh Griffiths and Stephen Welsh.

Lennon added: “I couldn’t start with a back four. I couldn’t start Ryan based on what the medical team told me.

“We have started the season 4-3-3 and were alright in some of the games. We scored more goals with 3-5-2, but it’s about personnel and getting players back fitter and hungrier that was a big plus.

“It was great to see Ryan back. Albian Ajeti, I thought, was outstanding. Diego Laxalt outstanding. Kristoffer Ajer, too. There were a lot of really good performances.

“When we get all our players back and up to match speed we will be absolutely fine. You could see there was a surge in quality and belief in the second-half and that was missing last Saturday.”


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