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LENNY’S CUP FINAL REGRET

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NEIL LENNON made personal and club history as Celtic lifted the Scottish Cup after a nerve-ridden penalty-kick shoot-out with Hearts.

The Hoops boss saw his side twice throw away leads against the battling Championship side as the grand finale ended 3-3 after extra-time.

Rookie keeper Conor Hazard, in only his third first-team appearance, was the spot-kick hero with two saves as the Parkhead men won 4-3 with efforts from Leigh Griffiths, Callum McGregor, Mikey Johnston and Kristoffer Ajer while former No.1 Craig Gordon denied Ryan Christie.

Celtic claimed their twelfth successive domestic honour and the phenomenal quadruple treble while Lennon became the only individual to win a clean sweep as a player and a manager.

But the jubilant Parkhead gaffer did express some regret after the club’s latest triumph.

Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I couldn’t be more happy. It’s quite unique and we’ll probably never see the likes of this again in our lifetimes.

“It’s just a shame there weren’t people here to witness what was a great Cup Final,

“I said before the game that we were coming up against a very, very good team and it shows just how difficult it is to win trophies. We were pushed all the way by a very good side.

“Bear in mind the weight of expectation and the burden that the players have been under to achieve this accomplishment.

“I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking about a quadruple treble.

“For all the success we had in the late sixties, these guys have won trebles now four seasons in a row. It’s just incredible.”

With the holders leading 2-0 after goals from Christie and Odsonne Edouard (pen), Lennon admitted: “At half time, I told the team that the next goal would be important, whether it went to Hearts or us.

“If you get the third you’re cruising, but if you concede it, they get a little bit of encouragement, which they did.

“I thought the reaction to us losing that goal was good. We had a couple of real chances to score a third and then our bugbear this year has been set-plays and we’ve conceded a poor one.

“You’ve got to give Hearts credit for pushing us all the way, but after the 90 minutes we thought they were tiring and the subs came on.”

The Hoops chief added: “Griffiths is a footballing genius when it comes to goalscoring and I thought: ‘Surely this is it now’, but we conceded again from a set-play. It was unnecessary to give a free-kick away and we didn’t deal with it.

“Nobody likes to win on penalties. But we said to them before the penalty shoot-out that whatever happens, even if we miss one, we keep going, keep going until there’s no chance of winning it or you’ve got your hands on the trophy.”

 
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