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  Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 23:58 GMT
O'Neill blasts French ref
O'Neill is given his marching orders
Celtic boss Martin O'Neill was banished to the stand
Referee Claude Columbo came in for severe criticism of his handling of Celtic's Uefa Cup third round first leg tie with Celta Vigo.

The fussy Frenchman made a number of incredible decisions at Celtic Park and sent home manager Martin O'Neill to the stand.

Celtic were worthy winners but may rue a number of missed chances when they take a 1-0 lead to Galicia in a fortnight.

Henrik Larsson was on target for the home side.

Neil Lennon, who shone in midfield for Celtic, was not at all pleased with Columbo's handling of the match.

"The referee tried his best to spoil the game for both sides," Lennon told BBC Scotland.

"We were hoping to come away with a few more goals, but we'll take that result.

"It's the same scenario as the Blackburn tie now," Lennon continued, alluding to the previous round when Celtic won 1-0 at home before a 2-0 triumph in England.

Lennon ran the show in midfield
Neil Lennon put in a good midfield display
"Now we've got to go out there and try and nick a goal."

O'Neill, who was bickering with the fourth official all night, was seen complaining about Columbo's decisions repeatedly.

And in the closing stages of the match O'Neill was banished to the stand by the Frenchman.

"The referee's performance left a lot to be desired," O'Neill fumed.

"He tried to ruin what was a brilliant evening for us.

"He did his best to spoil proceedings and he had an obvious problem with the linesman because he overruled him consistently and excessively.

The fourth official actually pushed me

Martin O'Neill
"That affected the linesman's confidence, but that's enough talking about it because the referee did detract from our performance.

"The players were terrific against a top class side.

"We got the goal we deserved and we could have had a few more.

"I couldn't have higher praise for the team."

O'Neill, who was sent off during a Champions League match against Juventus in Turin last season, revealed that the fourth official had man-handled him.

"The fourth official actually pushed me," O'Neill told BBC Radio Scotland.

Henrik Larssonw as on target again
Larsson scored the all important goal
"It was inappropriate without a doubt. I don't know whether we would have any chance of doing anything about it (with Uefa).

"I would probably say no chance, but I certainly want to send some video evidence of that particular incident and of the game itself."

Meanwhile, Vigo coach Miguel Angel Lotina was not impressed with Celtic.

And claimed that the noise of the crowd was more frightening than the home team.

"I wasn't very impressed," said Lotina. "I knew it would be more or less like this, but I was impressed with the atmosphere here at Celtic Park."

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 ON THIS STORY
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"I couldn't have higher praise for the team."
Celtic's Neil Lennon
"It was another great night."

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