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We'll make Shak eat their words, says Celtic manager Neil Lennon

By Ronnie Esplin

Neil Lennon has warned Shakhter Karagandy boss Viktor Kumykov that his confidence ahead of their Champions League play-off second-leg tie against Celtic at Parkhead on Wednesday night could "come back and bite" him.

The Hoops are 2-0 down from the first game against the Kazakhstan champions and Shakhter's Russian coach was quoted as saying they would also "score a pair of goals" in Glasgow, although he backtracked somewhat later today by saying his words had been "misinterpreted."

However, at Celtic's training complex in Lennoxtown this morning, Hoops manager Lennon made his feelings on the matter crystal clear, claiming that his Shakhter counterpart had been "disrespectful."

"I think it (their confidence) is very dangerous and it can always come back to bite you," he said.

"This is a two-game tie and it is disrespectful to my team as well.

"I don't need to motivate my players for tomorrow night but if they want to keep talking the way they are doing then that's fine.

"We know we have to have to win the game by three goals.

"If they score we need to score four, if they score two – according to their manager – then we need to score five.

"Looking at the first game in the cold light of day, there is no doubt that we were the better team and created the better chances.

"We have 90 minutes to score two goals. Regardless, we could score the first goal in the 75th minute or 80th minute and that would still give us 10 or 15 minutes to get another one.

"There is no rush on our part to come out all guns blazing and try to force the early goal.

"So we will let the game take its natural course, as long we have control of the game that is the most important thing."

The former Celtic skipper insists he is encouraged rather than frustrated by his side's performance in Astana, where they failed to convert a series of chances while giving away two cheap goals, to leave hopes of reaching the lucrative group stages of the tournament for the second successive season in the balance.

"There are deficiencies in the way Shakhter play, we exposed them in the first game but couldn't take advantage of it," said Lennon, who gave a firm "no" to one Kazakh journalist who asked if he would step down if Celtic fail to get through.

"So what we have to do is take advantage of the opportunities that we create tomorrow evening.

"I need my players to play their best and if they play their best then I think they will win this tie.

"We know we had by far and away the bulk of possession and by far and away the bulk of the best chances over there.

"That gave me a lot of encouragement rather than frustration.

"We know we can create chances against this team and hopefully at home we can take those opportunities.

"It may be a frustrating evening, so we have to be patient.

"We might even concede a goal, that means we have to score four. But that is the reality of the game."

While planning what would be a commendable if far from unlikely turnaround in the tie, Lennon remains riled by accusations of complacency ahead of the trip to Kazakhstan.

"I have plenty of respect for Shakhter," said the Northern Irishman.

"They play with a lot of heart, spirit and organisation and have certain high-calibre players.

"What annoys me is that people are throwing accusations that we have underestimated Shakhter.

"We certainly didn't. We did all our preparation work as best we could. Now we have to rectify what isn't an insurmountable situation."

Meanwhile, Georgios Samaras (left) insists there will be no need for panic inside Celtic Park if the home side fail to get an early goal against Shakhter Karagandy in their Champions League play-off second-leg on Wednesday night.

The Hoops are 2-0 down from the first game in Astana with the feeling that the Kazakhstan champions will have to survive an early onslaught if they are to have a chance of becoming the first club from their country to reach the group stages of the competition.

However, the Greece forward (28), believes the taking of chances, whenever they come, is the key to a Celtic victory.

"The early goal would be perfect but we don't need to panic," he said.

"I don't care if the goals come in the last 10 minutes or the first 10 minutes, it is 90 minutes, there is plenty of time.

"The main thing it to be clinical with the chances we create.

"We believe in our team, our talent and we fully respect Shakhter but at Celtic Park with a full house anything can happen.

"It is a big game. We want to be back in the Champions League group stages and hopefully everything will be okay."

Samaras, however, admits the Hoops will have to display more guile than they did in the first-leg in Astana if they are to reach the Champions League for the second successive season.

"I expect it to be like the first game," said the former Manchester City player. "They will try to defend and keep a clean sheet.

"We need to be more clever and more patient, to find a better way through their defence and create more chances, and the chances we create, we have to put them in the back of the net.

"They are a good team but it is a team we can beat.

"They are not Barcelona, whom we played last year.

"We respect them but we think we can do it."

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