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THE FRENCH CONNECTION 4: ROOKIE BOSS LENNY STOPS THE ROT

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CELTIC step onto the £30million Champions League tightrope again when they face £200million man Neymar and his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates at Parkhead on Tuesday, September 12.

The Hoops have faced French opposition seven times in the past with five wins, six defeats and three draws from the 14 games.

In the concluding instalment in CQN’s exclusive four-day feature, we turn the spotlight on Neil Lennon.

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NEIL LENNON was relatively new to European football as a manager after taking over from the ill-fated Tony Mowbray as caretaker before getting the job on a full-time basis in June 2010.

He had been in charge of the side only six times before the UEFA group stages in season 2011/12.

And the Irishman can at least boast of an unbeaten record against French opposition unlike some of his more famous predecessors.

In six games in the UEFA League, Lennon saw the Hoops lose home and away to Atletico Madrid, draw twice with Udinese and also share two goals with Rennes away from home and triumph 3-1 at Parkhead.

The Hoops had to receover from a bizarre own goal in the first game against Rennes in France on October 20 before battling back to get a 1-1 draw and a point.

Cha Du-Ri took keeper Fraser Forster totally by surprise with a crazy and unexpected passback on the half-hour mark that trickled into the net to give the home side a shock lead.

However, the South Korean’s blushes were spared in the 70th minute when Charlie Mulgrew’s excellent free-kick was headed into the net by Joe Ledley.

On November 3, the teams locked horns again in Glasgow and Mowbray enjoyed his only success in the group, a well-earned 3-1 victory after another early setback.

Kader Mangane headed in the opener in the second minute to silence the home fans, but Anthony Stokes, now reunited with Lennon at Hibs, levelled with a poacher’s goal on the half-hour mark.

And the Republic of Ireland international raider fired the Bhoys ahead before the half-time whistle.

Gary Hooper came off the substitutes’ bench to claim a third goal eight minutes from the end after working a neat one-two with Georgios Samaras.

It had hardly been a spectacular second campaign for the manager, but better things – and Barcelona – were around the corner!

LISTEN to the Thomas “Kidso” Reilly story on the current edition of the CQN Podcast…

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