Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

No complaints from Celtic boss Mowbray

Gracious Celtic manager Tony Mowbray refused to lament a controversial penalty which set Arsenal on their way to the Champions League following a 3-1 defeat at Emirates Stadium.

Croatia striker Eduardo converted from the spot after 29 minutes after he had gone down somewhat lightly under a sliding challenge by Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc, which all but killed off the tie.

Emmanuel Eboue made sure there would be no comeback for Mowbray's side with a neat finish after 53 minutes before substitute Andrey Arshavin slotted in a third.

Celtic midfielder Massimo Donati volleyed home a superb consolation goal in stoppage time.

Mowbray said: "I have not seen a re-run of it, so I cannot sit here and complain about it.

"The referee has given it, but if the TV pictures show it should not have been given, then so be it.

"All the boys thought there was no contact, but we have to accept it and move on.

"However, you cannot deny that over the two legs, Arsenal had more quality and deserved to go through."

The Celtic boss continued: "The first goal was always going to be crucial. If we had got it, you would have had a more interesting spectacle.

"The fact that Arsenal scored it allows their real high quality players to relax a bit more and play at their own pace.

"When you try and play high up against such quality players, you are asking for trouble.

"That is the way it panned out - but I could not question the desire and effort of my team."

Defender Glenn Loovens, however, maintained it was not a spot-kick.

"I was close enough to get a good view on it, its disappointing when you concede a goal like that," he said.

"You can see from the reaction of the boys, they were close to it.

"If it stays 0-0 you are in the game, but now we are 1-0 down and the game is over.

"The referee made the decision and he is not going to change it."

Loovens added: "It is very disappointing, but that is football.

"It is sad it happened to us today, and I do not think it is really fair, but it helped his team take the lead.

"There is a ref and a linesman to see those kind of things."

Despite the disappointment of tonight's defeat, Mowbray insisted Celtic would be able to hold their own against all but the leading sides of the English top flight.

He said: "I would suggest there are only four teams in the English Premier League of the quality of Arsenal.

"I do not think the gulf between our football club and the rest of the Premier League would be there - maybe we will get the chance to show that in the Europa League.

"I genuinely believe Arsenal are a team who can win this competition, but at the moment Celtic are not in a position to compete with the English sides who make the semi-finals of this tournament year in and year out."

Mowbray added: "You have to take the positives out of the way we played in these two matches.

"Hopefully we will be more than a match for whomever we draw now and I expect us to compete very well in the Europa League."

Mowbray, meanwhile, dismissed suggestions captain Stephen McManus was set to join Coca-Cola Championship side Ipswich, managed by former Celtic player Roy Keane.

"I have no problem with people being interested in our players, but what I would suggest, from my understanding is Stephen McManus would have no interest in going to Ipswich Town.

"He is captain of our club and wants to get himself back into our team.

"Real Madrid may be interested in one of our players, but that does not mean he is going.

"I would suggest that is a non-starter."

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