SOCCER

Neil Lennon accepts blame for Celtic loss to Hibs

Manager says getting his formation wrong was a key factor in his team's first loss after five wins

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2012, 3:08am
AFP

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon blames his formation for his side's 1-0 defeat by Hibernian on Saturday that saw their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League cut to six points.

The Hoops started the match with a 3-4-3 formation but struggled to cope with Hibs in the early exchanges with on-loan Wolves player Leigh Griffiths giving the Easter Road side a ninth-minute lead.

Celtic changed to a flat back four and improved after the break as they chased an equaliser.

However, Hibs held on to end Lennon's five-game winning run in the SPL and the manager said he had to take the blame.

"I'm not disappointed with our performance," Lennon said. "But I am disappointed at the goal and disappointed with my own formation and how I set it up early on so I changed it. I will take the blame for that.

"We had two formations set up and I've chosen the wrong one by the looks of it.

"The three at the back didn't really work for us and when we went to a flat back four we were in control of the game.

"For 70-odd minutes we dominated the game and I'm disappointed with our final ball and composure in front of goal. On another day we would have won the game comfortably.

"So, in terms of attitude and desire and intensity I can't fault the players, It was there for all to see. We just lacked an edge in front of goal today."

Celtic now face Motherwell, who came from two behind to draw 2-2 with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, on Wednesday.

Lennon said his players would be desperate to win the last game before the two week SPL winter break and insisted he would be happy with a repeat of the Easter Road performance against Motherwell.

"We didn't need a boot up the backside. This isn't a reality check or anything like that," Lennon said.

"There was no complacency out there from what I could see today so we will be highly motivated to win the game on Wednesday and it should be another good game to look forward to."

The win ended a dreadful run for Hibs who had only taken one point from their previous four matches and gives them confidence heading into Thursday's Edinburgh derby against Hearts at Tynecastle.

"That's probably the biggest win since we came here," Hibs manager Pat Fenlon admitted. "To beat Celtic is a fantastic achievement.

"The run they've been on in the league and obviously qualifying for the latter stages of the Champions League means it's a big result for us.

"I think the Hearts result a couple of weeks ago in the Scottish Cup was a massive result for us but I think the players will take huge confidence from this win.

"It gives them all a lift. I think maybe over the past three or four weeks people have maybe started to doubt us so we've answered a few critics with that.

 

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