Neil Lennon looks to strengthen as Celtic progress in Europe
Neil LENNON saw his Celtic side guarantee themselves eight more games in Europe last night with a 2-0 Champions League qualifying win over HJK Helsinki at the Sonera Stadium – and then revealed he would be speaking to chief executive Peter Lawwell about boosting his squad.
Goals after the break by midfielder Joe Ledley and forward Georgios Samaras took the Scottish champions into the play-offs 4-1 on aggregate and made sure they would at least get a place in the group stage of the Europa League.
The Hoops squad fly to Philadelphia today to play Real Madrid in a challenge match at the weekend and the Celtic boss, who has only signed goalkeeper Fraser Forster so far, is hoping that, during that time, he will be able to persuade Lawwell to loosen the purse strings.
Asked if he could now go to his boss and tell him what he needed for the forthcoming European campaign, Lennon said: “It’s a good question – I think you need to ask Peter that. We will talk about it over the next few days.
“We are going to America, which is so something for the players to look forward to.
“The players need a couple of days to recover and we will discuss things further when the time comes.
“We will see what the draw brings on Friday and we will give it everything we’ve got.”
Lennon’s players made him aware in the dressing room that they were in no mood for failure so early in the season.
The Northern Irishman said: “You could sense it before the game.
“The players were really motivated. Some of the quiet ones were speaking up in the dressing room.
“They worked really hard in Germany (in pre-season) and it was a natural progression.
“The two games – the first leg against Helsinki and the Aberdeen game on Saturday – would have given them a huge benefit.”
Midfielder Victor Wanyama was sent off in the second half with the score at 1-0 after picking up the second of two yellow cards, while skipper Scott Brown, Kris Commons, Charlie Mulgrew and substitute Beram Kayal also found themselves in Austrian referee Robert Schorgenhofer’s notebook.
Lennon was clearly unhappy with the official but would only say: “I don’t want to take the gloss off the night, but to say the referee was inconsistent is an understatement.
“I am not going to go any further than that, but it seems they play a different game on the continent than we do in Britain.”
HJK Helsinki coach Antti Muurinen had no complaints about the result.
He said: “I must admit that Celtic were the better team in both games.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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