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Lennon blasts referee after Celtic loss

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has criticised referee Andiano Undiano Mallenco in the aftermath of his side’s 3-0 defeat to Juventus.

Celtic’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League suffered an early blow as defender Efe Ambrose, who featured despite having played in the Africa Cup of Nations final for Nigeria just two days before, was caught under a long ball and allowed Alessandro Matri in to score after just three minutes.

And things got no better for the hosts as they were denied what Lennon believed were two clear penalties before Claudio Marchisio and Marko Vucinic struck late on to effectively end the tie.

“I think the scoreline flatters Juventus. I thought for the best part of the game, 70 odd minutes up until the second goal we were by far the better side – but we can’t give away the goals we gave away. It was sloppy,” Lennon told ITV.

“We took a gamble (on Ambrose), I thought he was poor for the first goal but we had a great opportunity to equalise and we had some great chances to be fair. We played ever so well for long periods of the game and we switched off defensively for the second goal and the third goal was poor.

“I’d like to ask the referee: ‘Is the game different in Spain and Italy?’ Every time one of my players was moving or trying to lose his man he was fouled, time and time again. He should have given a penalty on at least two occasions for us.”

The 41-year-old remained realistic about his side’s chances of progression but insisted that his young players will learn from the defeat.

“We’ll need a miracle. It’s the harsh reality of Champions League football,” he admitted.

“Some of our young players will have learnt a lot tonight.”

Wed 13 February, 2013
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