| 14.3°C Dublin

Celtic 1 Sparta Prague 4 'We need a culture change' - Neil Lennon admits Celtic are in trouble after Sparta Prague rout

Close

Celtic manager Neil Lennon appears frustrated during the UEFA Europa League Group H match at Celtic Park

Celtic manager Neil Lennon appears frustrated during the UEFA Europa League Group H match at Celtic Park

Celtic manager Neil Lennon appears frustrated during the UEFA Europa League Group H match at Celtic Park

Celtic manager Neil Lennon admitted his side's performance in a 4-1 home defeat against Sparta Prague in the Europa League was not good enough, as pressure mounted on his position at Parkhead.

Sparta had a clutch of players missing through injury and Covid-19 issues, including number one goalkeeper Milan Heca and teenage star Adam Hlozek, but they took the lead in the 26th minute through striker Julis, and he scored a second just before the interval.

Celtic substitute Leigh Griffiths pulled a goal back in the 64th minute, shortly after coming off the bench, and the Scottish champions, who had lost to AC Milan at home and drawn at Lille in their first two Group H fixtures, then piled on the pressure.

However, they were undone yet again in the 76th minute when Julis tapped in a breakaway goal before substitute Ladislav Krejci headed in a fourth in the final minute to complete a chastening night for Neil Lennon’s side.

"There needs to be a culture change within the club," conceded a straight-talking Lennon.

"I need to get them more hungry, get them back to basics. All those things Sparta did. We have to be far more aggressive in our play. As the manager, I have to accept responsibility but the players have to look at themselves too."

"It's an accumulation of things catching up. We need to show a bit more humility and get back on the training ground. It's a bitterly disappointing performance."

"We don't do the basics well enough. The first goal it should never get past the first post. It's lackadaisical and we have to do better.

"The group is probably gone. We need to get some respect back with our next performance. I've been here a long time and that's a very poor performance from a Celtic team.

"This was poor. We started the game okay and then got really ragged with the ball. Our passing, technique. I keep saying if we don't defend set pieces properly we'll get punished.

"There was a lack of hunger tonight and I don't know where it's come from because we've put in a really good performance on Sunday. I've defended the players up until now but that was unacceptable."

With Celtic's European ambitions appearing to be over, Lennon needs to get his side back on track in the Scottish Premiership after a slow start to the season has seen them fall behind leaders Rangers in a season when they are bidding to clinch a tenth successive domestic league title.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy