Celtic manager Neil Lennon hailed Fraser Forster’s contribution to what he described as an ‘epic’ Europa League victory over Lazio.
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The on-loan Southampton goalkeeper produced two stunning saves at crucial stages of a pulsating second half as Celtic came from behind to beat their Italian opponents 2-1 and stay top of Group E at the halfway point of the campaign.
After Ryan Christie had cancelled out Manuel Lazarri’s opener, Forster made a brilliant close range stop to deny Lazio captain Marco Parolo. Celtic scored what proved to be the winner through Christopher Jullien in the 89th minute before Forster preserved all three points with a magnificent stoppage time save to deny substitute Danilo Cataldi’s thunderous shot.
The Scottish champions are now one point clear of Cluj at the top of the group and four points better off than top seeds Lazio who are third.
“It’s been an epic night for the players and the club,” said Lennon. “At times against quality sides, you need your goalkeeper to play well and Fraser pulled off two outstanding saves.
“Lazio were superb. They had periods in the game where they were the better team. I thought we started the game well but then the psychology of the game changed when Lazio scored and they got the upper hand.
“You can see it’s a bit of a learning curve as well for some of the players. There is some naivete at times in our play.
“But over the piece, to go toe-to-toe with Lazio and come away with three points is a huge shot in the arm for the team.
“It’s a great position to be in. It’s so important to win your home games. That was a Champions League game for me tonight with the quality on show from both sides, the tempo the game was played at.
For us to get on the positive side of that result is fantastic. Yes, we have seven points now but there is still a lot of work to be done in the group to make sure we qualify.”
Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi also heaped praise on Forster on an evening where he felt the outcome was harsh on his players.
“I don’t feel the team deserved to lose,” said Inzaghi. “We played a very good team but we had more than enough chances to win the game. If it wasn’t for two miraculous saves from the Celtic goalkeeper, then we would have won the game.
“We are behind where would like to be in the group. We need to win our next two games and we will try to do that, starting against Celtic in Rome in two weeks.”