Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Lennon raps Celtic as unbeaten run ends at Motherwell

Celtic Manager Neil Lennon during the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League match at Fir Park, Motherwell

Motherwell 2 Celtic 0: Neil Lennon accused his Celtic players of believing in their own hype after the Hoops' 17-game unbeaten run came to an unlikely end against Motherwell at Fir Park.

The Parkhead side went in to the match still basking in the glory of their 3-0 win over Old Firm rivals Rangers in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League last week and it was assumed that the trip to Lanarkshire, where they had not lost in six years, would be a formality.

However, on a threadbare Fir Park pitch, the visitors were caught napping in the second minute when a mix-up between Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew and keeper Fraser Forster allowed John Sutton to knock the ball in to an empty net.

And at the start of the second half, after Hoops' left-back Emilio Izaguirre had been adjudged by referee Euan Norris to have fouled Motherwell skipper Keith Lasley in the box, Sutton blasted in the spot-kick for number two.

The Celtic boss, who revealed right-back Mark Wilson is a doubt for the Scottish Cup fifth-round replay against Rangers at Parkhead on Wednesday after sustaining an ankle injury, was unhappy with his side's performance.

“They have had a lot of nice things said about them this week and maybe they were believing in their own publicity,” he said.

“By our performance, maybe we underestimated them.

“I didn't sense that in the week but there was a lack of competitiveness about us and quality, we did the opposite to what we have been doing the last couple of months and to be fair to them they have been excellent so I won't be over critical.

“But it was poor. We were poor defensively, poor in midfield and poor going forward. There was nothing positive to take from the game.

“There was no collectiveness about us, we were disjointed and the goals we lost were appalling. You can't give any team cheap goals and expect to win games.

“You can make up excuses for the pitch but it was the same for both sides. We didn't adapt to the conditions and we were second best.

“It's not a criticism I can level at the players very often but Motherwell were hungrier.

“Any time we have had a poor performances we have bounced back pretty well and I am looking for a reaction now in the next nine, 10 games.”

Motherwell's penalty was arguably disputable but Lennon said: “We had an opportunity to clear after Hutchinson hit the bar and it should have been cleared but it wasn't.

“We got on the wrong side of Lasley and when you make a challenge on the wrong side, ultimately you can either bring him down for a free-kick or a penalty and that's what happened.

“Listen, we got what we deserved — nothing.”

Midfielder Kris Commons added: “I think we were a little bit complacent. We didn't start the game well and gave away a sloppy goal. A misunderstanding between a centre-half and the goalkeeper cost us and instead of bouncing back we gave away another sloppy goal.

“It was just sloppy, not like us and it put us on the back foot. The spark wasn't there.

“Usually you maybe have two or three players who are not quite at the races but to have 14 who weren't at 100% was the disappointing thing.

“It is a wake-up call, you can't just turn up and play, you have to work hard. They wanted it more than us.”

Motherwell boss Stuart McCall insisted his players deserved all the praise for their shock win.

The former Rangers and Scotland midfielder said: “It was the best result and performances since I came here.

“It was an outstanding performance of grit and determination and football. I think we just about merited the victory.

“But it was nothing to do with me, it was down to the players.

“It helped getting an early goal but they kept up the work rate and endeavour and it makes me a proud manager.”

Double strike hero Sutton admitted he would have liked to have secured the match ball by scoring a hat-trick.

He said: “I was a little bit disappointed in that we had a few good breakaways and it would have been nice to have an opportunity.

“It was good to get the two goals but the main thing was that we won — although I think Jamie Murphy is a bit upset that I managed to block his shot.

“Over the course of the game I think we deserved to win and we have to keep that up now.”

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