Lennon over the moon as Celtic progress


Neil Lennon says Celtic's win over Lazio in the Europa League ranks nearly as highly as them beating Barcelona in 2012 after advancing to the last-32.

The Scottish champions were hoping to compete in the Champions League this season but they were knocked out of the tournament in the third qualifying round by Cluj.

But they managed to overcome that disappointment by thrashing AIK 6-1 on aggregate to book their spot in the Europa League group stage.

In a strange twist of fate, they were drawn with Cluj in Group E and they both look set to go through to the last 32.

Celtic are certain to be there after they came from a goal down to beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome on Thursday courtesy of goals from James Forrest, who recently signed a new deal, and Olivier Ntcham.

They had done the same in the reverse fixture at Celtic Park on October 24 and Ntcham’s goal, which came in the 95th minute at the Stadio Olimpico, has sealed their passage through with two games spare.

The dramatic victory came on the seventh anniversary of their 2-1 Champions League triumph over Barcelona and boss Neil Lennon was beaming with pride at the full time whistle.

Lennon said: “This team just keeps setting new boundaries.

“I’m so proud of them, not just for winning the game, but the way they played – the character, the bravery and above all else, real quality.”

Lennon will now be afforded the luxury of rotating his starting XI for the final two matches against Rennes and Cluj as he looks to prioritise the Premiership.

The 50-time champions currently lead the way but are only ahead of second-placed Rangers on goal difference after 11 games.