Celtic: Neil Lennon targets 'best achievement as manager'

 

Champions League Group G: Celtic v Spartak Moscow

  • Venue: Celtic Park
  • Date: Wednesday, 5 December
  • Kick-off: 19:45 GMT

Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Radio 5 live (not available online), live text commentary

Neil Lennon reckons steering Celtic into the last 16 of the Champions League would be his "best achievement as a manager".

Celtic host Spartak Moscow, knowing they must better Benfica's result in Barcelona to progress.

Lennon said: "It would be great for everyone associated with the club and give the players something to really get their teeth into in the new year.

"Regardless of the outcome, we will have European football next year."

Celtic and Benfica are locked on seven points, while Barcelona have already secured top spot in Group G and Spartak cannot lift themselves off the foot of the section.

Benfica have the edge over Celtic on the head-to-head record but face a much tougher final fixture, with the team finishing third dropping into the Europa League.

"No one gave us a prayer coming into this competition," added Lennon.

"There were people saying we wouldn't get a point, that we wouldn't make the Europa League.

"We thought we had a decent chance and that's what we've given ourselves.

Champions League Group G

Pld Won Draw Lost Pts

Barcelona

5

4

0

1

12

Benfica

5

2

1

2

7

Celtic

5

2

1

2

7

Spartak Moscow

5

1

0

4

3

"We're at home and Spartak are out of the competition but they will come here with a huge amount of pride to play for and they are a very dangerous team going forward.

"They may come and play with freedom and that could be a dangerous ingredient for us.

"What I want is for us to win, that's all we can do and that would mean Benfica would need a win in Barcelona.

"The players have enjoyed the competition, they have thrived on it and they are looking for more."

Barcelona plan to rest Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro Rodriguez but star forward Lionel Messi will play against Benfica.

However, Lennon is focused solely on his side, saying: "I'm not concerned with what other teams are doing.

"I'm only concerned with my team and how they play tomorrow night.

"If Barcelona leave six players out, I'm sure the six players coming in will be top quality.

"My players will have their own focus, regardless of the result elsewhere.

"The remit is for us to win our game. To come away with 10 points, that's a fantastic total.

"If it doesn't get us through then it's still a tremendous effort."