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McINTYRE PRAISE FOR YOUNG HOOPS

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TOMMY McINTYRE admitted he was proud of his players after their penalty-kick defeat to Valencia in last night’s UEFA Youth League play-off clash at Parkhead.
The young Hoops took the lead five minutes from half-time when 15-year-old Jack Aitchison fastened onto Jamie McCart’s pass, rounded goalkeeper Antonio Sivera and knocked the ball home.

Celtic kept on top after the break and it looked as though their chances would be helped when the Spanish side’s skipper Javier Jimenez was sent off with just under 20 minutes remaining.

Unfortunately, the 10 men levelled through substitute Ismael Martinez to force a penalty-kick shoot-out. Aidan McIlduff and Fiacre Kelleher both passed up opportunities to settle the showdown and Valencia clinched the last-16 spot when Sivera saved from McCart in sudden death.

Boss McIntyre, speaking on the official Celtic website, said: “I’m immensely proud. We are a young side, the youngest side in the tournament, but I see that as a challenge.

“We have eight or nine players out on loan which is great for the club as they are getting that first-team experience and we have the next group coming through.

“They had a big challenge against a strong side, a very good side, and the way the players prepared for the game, addressed the game and the attitude they showed on the pitch was first class.

“Although it may seem disappointing because of the nature of how the game finished, as long as they learn from it, that is the main thing.”

He added: “Penalty-kicks are a lottery, but we focused on the 90 minutes and how much effort they put in. They really worked hard.

“Off the ball, we closed them down and never allowed them to play the way they like to. We kept the ball for good periods and created two or three really good chances and could have got that second goal.

“They stuck to the gameplan and they should be proud as they did really well.”
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