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BHOYED-UP 'We looked far more like ourselves' - Neil Lennon finds silver lining as Celtic surrender a lead to AC Milan

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Pressure has increased on Celtic manager Neil Lennon after a 4-2 defeat to AC Milan in the Europa League. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Pressure has increased on Celtic manager Neil Lennon after a 4-2 defeat to AC Milan in the Europa League. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Pressure has increased on Celtic manager Neil Lennon after a 4-2 defeat to AC Milan in the Europa League. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes his under-pressure side gave him some signs of encouragement, even though they surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 to AC Milan in their Europa League dead rubber in the San Siro.

The off-form Scottish champions had already been knocked out of the competition by the time they travelled to Italy but they stunned the home side with goals from Tom Rogic and Odsonne Edouard in the first 13 minutes.

However, season-long defensive frailties soon returned and goals in quick succession from Turkish striker Hakan Calhanoglu and Spaniard Samuel Castillejo had the home side level before the break.

Norwegian attacker Jens Petter Hauge scored a fine third five minutes after the interval and in the 82nd minute Milan substitute Brahim Diaz added a fourth to leave the Parkhead side with one point from five Group H games.

“We took the game to Milan. I wanted us to get a bit of respectability back to our performance and I felt we got that," said Lennon.

“We looked far more like ourselves and I didn’t think the scoreline did us justice.

“I think there is a lot to be positive now going forward. The players at times showed what they’re really capable of.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been involved with a team that’s gone 2-0 up in the San Siro, regardless of the circumstances.

“We created quality chances and they had to rely on their goalkeeper to keep them in the game.

“I’m sitting here disappointed as it’s another defeat and it’s a sore one to take.

“But I’m also very proud of the reaction and their will to put own a performance. We looked far more like a Celtic team that I know.

“The players are disappointed because they felt they were always in the game. They are really good professionals who like to win.

“People may say it’s another defeat and another four goals. I get that and I understand it.

“But the quality of opposition was top class. And the performance from our team and as individuals was a very very, very high standard.

“I was delighted in a lot of aspects of our play. I thought we looked a real threat.

“We’ve let ourselves down, not being physical enough in the tackle at times.

“It’s not as if we were cut open. We’d plenty of players back to deal with it but we don’t.

“That’s the way the game went. It’s how the tie was lost really. There wasn’t much between the teams.”

Lennon now needs his side to deliver a victory when Celtic take on St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday.

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