NEIL LENNON lavished praise on his Celtic players following their historic and “titanic” 2-1 triumph over Lazio in the Olympic Stadium in Rome last night.
The Hoops came back from the loss of an early goal to equalise through James Forrest in the 38th minute and claim their first-ever win on Italian soil in the fifth minute of stoppage-time when Olivier Ntcham clipped in a delightful chip.
The victory guaranteed a place in the Europa League last 32 next year and gaffer Lennon went overboard as he hailed his heroes as they celebrated their team’s first success in Italy at the THIRTEENTH attempt.
Striker Ciro Immobile put them on the back-foot in the seventh minute when he left Fraser Forster helpless with a low shot at his right-hand post, but Mohamed Elyounoussi set up Forrest for the leveller seven minutes before the interval with a devastating angled drive that zipped beyond the stranded keeper.
Odsonne Edouard, who had earlier missed a marvellous chance, intercepted a wayward pass from an opponent in the fading moments, carried it forward and released a pass at the perfect moment and Ntcham, a 77th-minute substitute for Ryan Christie, carried it on before dinking it over the flailing arms of Thomas Strakosha.
The goal also clinched a praiseworthy double over the Serie A cracks following the identical scoreline in Glasgow a fortnight ago and Lennon, speaking to the Daily Mail, said: “I am so happy and proud of the team.
IN WITH A SHOUT…Olivier Ntcham yells in delight after his last-gasp winner.
“Not just winning the game, but the way they played the game, the character, the bravery and above all else, real quality.
“It was a titanic game again, a brilliant game to watch and it was a game we thoroughly deserved to win.
“To come here and play as good as that; this team keeps setting new boundaries. We have qualified after four games. That is unheard of for Celtic in Europe.
“It is amazing night, not just for me, the players, the board and, obviously, the magnificent support we had in the stadium.
“It is historic. It is a privilege for me to coach these players and work with my backroom staff who do an unbelievable job behind the scenes.
“We are in a good place at the minute. It is job done as far as qualifying for the new year.
“We have a lot of work to do domestically, but it is an amazing night for the team and the club.”
Asked where it ranked in comparison to Celtic’s famous 2-1 Champions League win over Barcelona in 2012 in the Irishman’s first term in charge, Lennon answered: “It is just behind it.
“To beat Barcelona was a great night and a great achievement for the club, but this is almost on a par, to come here and play a team who are in great form, packed with international stars.”
With games against Rennes in Glasgow and Cluj in Romania remaining, the Hoops have amassed 10 points from three wins and a draw, Cluj have nine, Lazio three and Rennes one.