Neil Lennon hailed his history-making Celtic side as they set a new Scottish points record in the group stage of a European tournament, writes Stephen Halliday.
Their 3-1 win over Rennes at Celtic Park put them on 13 points after five games in Group E of the Europa League, beating the haul of 10 points in the group phase of the Champions League seven years ago during Lennon’s first spell as manager.
Celtic are now guaranteed to top the group, something they have never previously achieved, and have also won 10 European games in a single season for the first time.
It was another hugely positive night overall for Scottish football in Europe as Celtic’s win, combined with Rangers’ 2-2 draw against Feyenoord in Rotterdam, took the country up to 15th in the provisional Uefa coefficient rankings which would mean two places in the Champions League for the 2021-22 season.
“There were some milestones for us to achieve tonight,” said Lennon. “We asked the players if they could go beyond 10 points for the first time, could they win the group, could they win 10 games in Europe in a season. They answered all those questions.
“Psychologically it wasn’t easy but they handled the mentality of it very well. We cut Rennes open at times, going forward we are playing very well.
“I don’t know how much of an achievement it is topping the group. But it’s a landmark night for us because we have never done it before. It means we can maybe get a better draw as one of the seeded teams in the last 32.
“It’s great news for the Scottish game to go up to 15th in the rankings. Rangers have done fantastically well in their group as well to take it to the last game. I can’t comment on their performances because I haven’t been able to see them but it augurs well for the image of the Scottish game.”
Goals from Lewis Morgan, Ryan Christie and Mikey Johnston earned the convincing victory for Celtic who were without top scorer Odsonne Edouard.
“He’s got a niggle and we didn’t want to risk him,” said Lennon of the French striker. “We’ll see how he is for the weekend.”