DEJECTED Neil Lennon could not hide his frustration as Celtic meekly capitulated 2-0 at Ibrox this afternoon.
The champions were poor and rarely threatened as an attacking force throughout the 90 minute with the Govan side’s stand-in keeper Wes Foderingham required to make one save during the encounter.
And that came seven minutes from time when on-loan West Brom forward Oliver Burke, possibly playing his last game in the team’s green and white hoops, shot straight at the goalie.
The interim manager admitted the team’s performance in their second loss of the campaign against rookie Steven Gerrard was “unacceptable”.
Lennon saw the side lose their first game since he took charge 11 matches ago in February when Brendan Rodgers made a swift departure to Leicester City. It was the champions’ only domestic defeat in 16 outings in 2019 and the Irishman didn’t try to hide behind excuses.
The caretaker gaffer, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “The better team won. We lacked energy and we looked tired today. I don’t know if it’s mental or physical fatigue.
“We weren’t at the races. We got beaten and deservedly so.”
James Tavernier put the home side ahead inside two minutes when he floated in a free-kick that decieved the Hoops defence and swept beyond the amazed Scott Bain.
Lennon added: “We were looking for a reaction even at half-time and didn’t get one, so they’ve got to have a look at themselves.
“But we’ve got a good group in there and they’ve let themselves down today.
“I don’t think they’ll need much picking up. They’ll know they have a huge Cup Final looming in two weeks’ time and there may be places up for grabs, so that should be motivation enough for them.
“That performance was unacceptable even though they’ve been brilliant for a long period of time. It just seemed like Rangers wanted it more today than we did. I think that’s the biggest criticism we can aim at the players.”
Scott Arfield claimed the second killer goal in the 63rd minute with the Hoops players again to blame for the lack of genuine challenges in the lead-up and execution of the goal with Scott Brown, Jozo Simunovic and Kristoffer Ajer all in a position to deal with the threat.
The champions now bring down the curtain on the Premiership campaign in a week’s time against Hearts at Parkhead when they will be presented with their eighth crown in a row.
And then all eyes will be at Hampden the following Saturday for the Scottish Cup Final against the Tynecastle outfit.
A repeat of today’s dismal performance could wreck the opportunity of an unprecedented treble treble.