Celtic 2 Spartak 1: Neil Lennon hails ‘monumental achievement’
Celtic 2 Spartak 1: Neil Lennon hails a "monumental achievement" after Hoops reach the Champions League last 16
Neil Lennon hailed Celtic’s “monumental achievement” after the Hoops booked their place in the Champions League knockout stage courtesy of a victory over Spartak Moscow.
The Hoops took a 21st-minute lead after Gary Hooper capitalised on Juan Insaurralde’s mistake and slotted an emphatic finish past the stranded Sergey Pesiakov.
However, Spartak responded six minutes before half-time when Emmanuel Emenike avoided two Celtic challenges before teeing up Brazil striker Ari.
With Benfica drawing at Barcelona in the other Group G tie, Lennon’s men secured second spot and booked their place in the last 16 when Kris Common netted a penalty in the 82nd minute after Georgios Samaras was fouled.
“The players have been magnificent. It is a monumental achievement on their behalf,” said Lennon.
“For the club to be at the big table in the New Year, and to get 10 points, is phenomenal.
“We didn’t play well in the first half, but Gary Hooper is such a good goalscorer. We were slack for the goal we conceded but we were much better in the second half.
“I threw players on because we had to win it. I didn’t watch the penalty because I’ve watched our last couple and we’ve missed them!
“This campaign has been a great learning process and these young lads have grown as its gone on. This is the premier event, the toughest of the toughest. No-one gave us a prayer going into this group.”