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Europa League round-up Neil Lennon dismisses talk of a Celtic crisis as Steven Gerrard toasts a Rangers wonder goal


Celtic manager Neil Lennon. PA Photo.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. PA Photo.


Celtic manager Neil Lennon. PA Photo.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon insisted he was encouraged by his side's performance as they went down to a 3-1 defeat against Serie A giants AC Milan at Parkhead.

After his side went down to a 2-0 defeat against Rangers in Sunday's Old Firm match at Parkhead, Lennon has come under fire from sections of the club's supporter base as he looks to guide the club to a tenth successive league title.

AC Milan side dampened an enthusiastic start by the hosts in the 14th minute when midfielder Rade Krunic headed in a cross from Samuel Castillejo before Brahim Diaz added a second with a drive just before the break.

Celtic’s response was admirable and Mohamed Elyounoussi reduced the deficit with a header from fellow second-half substitute Ryan Christie’s 76th-minute corner but Milan substitute Jens Petter Hauge clinched the win with a counter-attack goal in added time.

Yet Lennon insists the concern over his side's form is misplaced in the opening weeks of the new season, as he claimed he was happy with his side's efforts against AC Milan.

"There has been a lot of hysteria in the last few days, but it is still very early in the season," statedLennon.

"For a lot of the players, it has been stop-start, so a lot of them will be closer to playing and others will have more game time, so it will look a lot rosier for us.

"I thought we deserved something out of the game against a very good AC Milan team. We were more like ourselves in the second half, but we just lacked the cutting edge.

"It was markedly better than the weekend. I thought Ajeti was outstanding, Laxalt was outstanding, Ajer did well. I thought there were some good performances out there."

Meanwhile, Rangers continued their fine form as they collected a 2-0 win against Standard Liege in Belgium, with Kemar Roofe's late clincher from the half-way line already a contender for goal of the season.

"The goal was a moment of genius," said Rangers boss Gerrard. "I’ve been playing football professionally since 1998 and it’s the best goal I’ve ever seen live with my own eyes.

"He collects the ball 15 yards outside our box, he’s strong for two challenges, holds a player off for the third and takes the same player on in the worst conditions I've seen.

"And to have the vision, the power and the class to score from 55 yards, I don’t think I've seen a better goal and I don’t think I will."

"I think it’s a very important victory to start the group in a positive way We've beat a good team. I think we deserved the victory.

"We were good defensively in the first half beside one moment with a cross, but in possession we needed to improve.

"In the second half, we were outstanding for 20 minutes then the game changed with the weather. It was very unpredictable for both teams, but we managed the game extremely well.

"We had one scary moment at the end, but thankfully Standard didn't score because it would’ve changed the game."

Elsewhere in the Europa League, Gareth Bale started for Spurs as they beat LASK 3-0, with Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min among the goals.

Arsenal beat Rapid Vienna 2-1 with a second half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Leicester beat Zorya Luhansk 3-0 at the King Power Stadium.

Online Editors