Neil Lennon critical of Celtic display in League Cup defeat

 

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes the Scottish League Cup semi-final defeat by St Mirren is one of the worst of his tenure.

Despite levelling the scores at 1-1, Celtic missed a second-half penalty and the Buddies' 3-2 win secured a final against Hearts.

"That was as poor as we've played this season," he said. "We were soulless.

"We were poor defensively, half-hearted in midfield, and apart from Gary Hooper going forward, we were tepid."

Esmael Goncalves grabbed the opening goal for St Mirren and Hooper levelled on the stroke of half-time.

Charlie Mulgrew saw his penalty saved and the Paisely outfit capitalised at Hampden.

Continue reading the main story

I'm fed up with the penalties we miss

Neil Lennon Celtic manager

Paul McGowan subsequently netted from the spot and and Steven Thompson netted a volley, with Mulgrew's late strike scant consolation for Lennon.

"There was no leadership and I'm not pointing the finger at Scott Brown for that at all," said Lennon.

"St Mirren played the way I expected them to. I got a response from the players at half-time, but the turning point was the two penalties - I didn't think either of them were.

"At the end of the day, we missed ours and Paul McGowan scored theirs and we ended up chasing the game. The third goal was awful and there was no reaction - the players were playing their own game and I'm bitterly disappointed with them today."

Lennon was critical of Mulgrew's spot-kick miss and said it proved to be a key factor in the defeat.

"As soon as we missed the penalty, we lost our way again," said Lennon. "We got a break with the penalty and we missed it.

"I'm fed up with the penalties we miss: Mulgrew, who is one of the best dead ball players in Britain, decided to side-foot it and I expected him to whip it low and hard into the corner.

"Maybe it's playing here (at Hampden), maybe we'll just not bother getting to semi-finals or finals if that's the way they want to play, because they've blown it - we've blown it.

"We had a great opportunity to get to a final again, and that's as bad as we've played for a long time under me; I'm struggling to find the answers."