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Lennon hits back at Shakhter claims

Neil Lennon has hit back at claims from Shakhter Karagandy that Celtic are all but out of the UEFA Champions League.

Comments from coach Viktor Kumykov suggested Shakhter remained underdogs for the clash, however midfielder Roger Canas has since claimed Celtic were “70 per cent out” of the competition.

After their play-off first leg defeat in Kazakhstan, Celtic must overturn a two-goal deficit if they are to progress to the group stages of the competition for the eighth time.

Lennon remains positive ahead of the second leg, and he expects his side to come back into the tie in front of a home crowd.

“Their confidence is dangerous (but) this is a two match tie, and it is disrespectful to my team,” he said.

“I don’t need to motivate my players for tomorrow night, but if they (Shakhter) want to continue the way they are doing then that’s fine by me.

“Looking at the game in the cold light of day, we were the better team (in the first leg), so their comments after it were a bit misrepresented.

Lennon is adamant his side will be able to deal with a motivated Shakhter side and will use the atmosphere inside Celtic Park to raise their game.

“Our home record in Europe has been fantastic and that’s down to good teams on the pitch, and the noise and atmosphere,” he continued. “It takes the players to new heights and we’re going to need the fans to make it an intimidating atmosphere again.

“You have 90 minutes to score two goals. There is no rush to come out all guns blazing and force a goal. As long as we have control.

“Whether Shakhter are motivated or not that’s irrelevant to me.

“We come up against motivated teams every week wanting to beat the champions, but my team will be motivated themselves.”

Tue 27 August, 2013
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