Celtic boss Neil Lennon hits back at Neil McCann in Odsonne Edouard 'Panenka' penalty row

Neil Lennon has given Odsonne Edouard his full blessing to do whatever it takes to ensure the ball hits the back of the net when Celtic are next awarded a penalty.

Neil Lennon is happy for Odsonne Edouard (left) to take another 'Panenka' penalty (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Frenchman received criticism from some quarters after he elected to hit a ‘Panenka’ in the first half of Sunday’s Scottish Cup final against Hearts.

The cheeky effort paid off and he put his side 2-0 up. Former teammate Craig Gordon was unhappy, however, and the Hearts goalkeeper threw the ball towards Edouard after retrieving it from the net.

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Pundit Neil McCann described the softly-struck chipped penalty – a technique devised by Czechoslovakia’s Antonin Panenka in the shootout to decide the 1976 European Championships final against West Germany – as “disrespectful”. He said he understood why Gordon was furious.

Lennon insisted claims the player was disrespecting a fellow professional were “complete and utter nonsense”. He added that he would leave it up to Edouard to “assess the situation” before deciding how to execute his next spot-kick. He would certainly not be advising him against employing this technique in future.

Other players, including Italy’s Andrea Pirlo in a Euro 2012 quarter-final against England, have been celebrated for carrying it off in high-pressure situations.

“What, you want me to caution Odsonne for scoring a penalty in a cup final? Come on,” said Lennon. “The Panenka has been around since 1976. I have seen great players doing it, I have seen Pirlo doing it against England. I don’t remember any of those individuals getting actually criticised or being called disrespectful. It’s just complete and utter nonsense.

“Listen, I have seen players blast it over the bar, I have seen players scuff it, I have seen players miss penalties – I have seen Odsonne miss a penalty this year already.

“That was his way at that moment of assessing the situation and executing it, so he has my full blessing to do whatever he wants as long as it hits the net,” he added. “You cannot ask anyone to warn a player after he has scored a really beautiful goal in a really important game like a cup final: ‘Don’t do that again Odsonne, become some people think it’s disrespectful’.”

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