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Page last updated at 22:19 GMT, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 23:19 UK

Manager Neil Lennon defiant after Celtic loss in Braga

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Lennon criticises officials' performance

Manager Neil Lennon refused to write off Celtic, despite the Champions League first-leg loss to Braga.

"Some people may think the tie is over; we don't," he declared in the aftermath of Wednesday's miserable 3-0 defeat.

"We've got a good record at home, we've been in this position before and we'll just have to go and be at our very best next week."

Aiden McGeady was omitted from the Celtic squad, with Lennon insisting the winger was injured.

It had been suggested, by Lennon, that the Republic of Ireland international was keen on a move away from Celtic Park.

And the 24-year-old has not featured in any of Celtic's pre-season games because of a thigh strain.

However, he travelled to Portugal with the rest of the squad and Lennon had said he would play.

On McGeady's absence, Lennon denied knowledge of any developments on a possible move and added: "He was complaining of a chronic back injury last night.

"Having spoken to the medical team, with the lack of training and the lack of game time he's had, I thought it best not to risk him.

"Hopefully, we'll have him for the second leg."

Celtic trailed to an Osorio Alan penalty at the interval, with Uwa Echiejile and Nascimento Matheus grabbing second half goals for the home side.

Lennon was critical of referee Serge Gumienny and his assistants for giving the penalty when a cross hit the arm of Ki Sung-Yeung.

"His arms and his hands are down by his side; it's ball to hand," said the manager.

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"He [Gumienny] made some strange decisions. He booked Charlie Mulgrew after less than 10 minutes for time-wasting. That was just incredible.

"He didn't book any of the Braga players until maybe the final five minutes.

"So I'm not pleased with the referee's performance at all."

The goals after the break came from a corner and a free-kick, which left Lennon exasperated.

"We lost the game to three set-pieces, which was very disappointing," he continued.

"I thought we were comfortable in the game. At times, we could have passed the ball better.

"Some of our better ball players didn't take care of the ball as well as they should have done at times."

Defending his decision to deploy Georgios Samaras as a lone striker, resulting in no shots on target for the visitors, Lennon said: "Our goalkeeper had one save to make in the 92, 93 minutes.

"We set up to be defensive and try to not give too much away."

Although Lennon indicated McGeady still had a future at Parkhead, the same cannot be said for right-back Andreas Hinkel, who was also not in the squad - because he was not registered.

"He's got a year left on his contract and we can't afford to let that run down," explained Lennon.

"We brought in Cha [Du-Ri], so he will be predominantly the first choice right-back."



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see also
Braga 3-0 Celtic
28 Jul 10 |  Celtic


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