Celtic Humbled by Rampant Milan

Kaka celebrates his opening goal Creidt: Eurosport

Kaka celebrates his opening goal
Creidt: Eurosport

By Hamza Jabir

Defensive errors see team ‘contribute to their own downfall.’

Celtic’s Champions league campaign came to an abrupt end last night after a 3-0 home defeat to AC Milan. The comprehensive defeat cuts Neil Lennon’s side adrift at the bottom of group H with Ajax’ suprise 2-1 victory over Barcelona in Amsterdam meaning third place and the consolation of Europa League football after Christmas is an impossibility.

The Scottish champions went into the game with confidence due to apparent state of turmoil in their opponent’s camp. Milan did not have their troubles to seek after the club’s worst start to a domestic season in over three decades compounded by a supporters protest following Saturdays 1-1 home draw with lowly Chievo. However, Kaka and company rose to the occasion in emphatic style to boost their chances of qualification.

Neil Lennon was only stating the obvious when he attributed the defeat to a combination of school boy defending and profligacy in attack. First Kaka, then Christian Zapata took full advantage of Celtic’s disjointed zonal marking from corners to net with Mario Balloteli completing the rout late on. Virgil Van Dijk missed what can only be described as a sitter, hammering straight into Milan keeper, Christian Abbiati’s arms from six yards out. Beram Kayal, Charlie Mulgrew and Giorgios Samaras also squandered good opportunities.

Lennon said: “I do not think we were outplayed. Big moments in the game changed the course of the game and the psychology of the game. Milan took their chances when they came along. We had opportunities through Kayal, Mulgrew, Van Dijk and Forrest and snatched at them. That was the difference. I think tonight is symptomatic of our campaign – we missed good chances and I am really disappointed with the two goals we conceded from corners, I take a lot of pride in that and that’s the first time for a long time that someone has scored directly from a header against us.”

Despite his side’s European exit ,Lennon vowed to come back again next year for another crack at the Champions League group stage. He said this would preferably be done with a stronger squad.

Lennon said: “We had already lost some big players – Adam Matthews, Scott Brown, Nir Biton – and losing Kayal as well tonight, that’s three midfielders out of five. When your squad is not as big as some other squads it does tend to bite you. If we want to look to the future and continue to play in the Champions League then we have to improve the squad we have now and we have to improve our recruitment for next year. It’s never a forgone conclusion that you’re going to be in the Champions League. We do have some money and we want to spend it, preferably in the January window. We knew when the draw was made how difficult it was going to be. But we competed and we have competed again tonight. We will do everything we can to come back and compete again next year –that’s the target.”

Lennon’s nail bombers convicted

Trevor Muirhead, 44, and Neil McKenzie, 42, have been convicted of plotting a nail bomb attack against Celtic manager Neil Lennon after a five week trial at Glasgow High Court.

The men were found guilty of conspiring to send the package. The pieces of mail they sent last year were designed to injure but actually the devices could not explode. McKenzie got “bomb making” tips from US television show The A-Team.

A bank of evidence was mounted against the two, including recordings from a police bug in McKenzie’s car which taped him boasting about “building a bomb”.

There is also CCTV footage of the unemployed builder buying parts including nails for the packages from local shops.

They had previously faced an allegation of conspiracy to murder before it was dropped.

Neil Lennon mail-bomber accused go on trial

The High Court in Glasgow

The trial of the two men accused of a plot to kill Celtic manager Neil Lennon began at the High Court in Glasgow today.

Neil McKenzie, 42, and Trevor Muirhead, 43, both from Northern Ayrshire, are accused of sending suspected parcel bombs to Mr Lennon, QC Paul McBride and former MSP Trish Godman. They are also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. They deny all the charges.

The device sent to Mr McBride is alleged to be a plastic bottle filled with petrol and nails attached to a timing device. Cairde Na hEireann, the Irish Nationalist group, also had suspected explosives sent to their premises in Glasgow as well.

The alleged incident marked a climax in tensions during last season’s SPL, with a record seven Old Firm matches resulting in player bans and a high profile clash between Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon. Eventually the Scottish Government called a summit to calm the situation and introduced the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which comes into force on 1st March. The legislation means that anybody behaving in a way that could cause public disorder at or around matches face five years in jail.

The two pronged Act aims to outlaw sectarian behavior and singing at football matches as well as dealing with serious threats, often made on social media, intended to incite religious hatred.

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