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Celtic were the better team against Milan, insists Lennon

Updated: Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 11:01 | Comments

Cristian Zapata helped Milan to an undeserved victory over Celtic
Cristian Zapata helped Milan to an undeserved victory over Celtic

Celtic began their Champions League Group H campaign with a 2-0 defeat by AC Milan but Neil Lennon believes no one should be surprised at how well they played against the Italian giants.

With around 10 minutes remaining in the San Siro the Hoops looked like they were on their way to at least getting a point.

Hoops keeper Fraser Forster had to make several saves early on and one near the end of the first-half but that aside, the confident visitors, who reached the last-16 of the competition last season, enjoyed more than their fair share of possession, with striker Anthony Stokes clipping the bar in the second-half with a free-kick.

Struggling Milan got a bigger slice of luck two minutes later when defender Cristian Zapata's drive appeared to be heading wide before it deflected off Parkhead left-back Emilio Izaguirre and ended up behind Forster.

The English keeper was beaten again four minutes later despite making a great save from Mario Balotelli's free-kick, as midfielder Sulley Muntari knocked in the rebound to leave the Celtic manager feeling "sore."

"I don't know why anyone is so surprised," said Lennon, when asked about his team's encouraging performance.

"We have an excellent side, we made the last-16 last year and that wasn't a fluke.

"It heightens the disappointment, that we played so well against Milan. The performance was of a high standard.

"We didn't hang on, there wasn't wave after wave of Milan attacks, we took the game to Milan.

"I thought we were the better team, playing the better football.

"I can't fault any of the individuals, but it is a little bit sore at the minute."

"We didn't hang on, there wasn't wave after wave of Milan attacks, we took the game to Milan" - Neil Lennon

Much was made of AC Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri's lengthy injury-list which included the absence of Kaka and captain Riccardo Montolivo and indeed, they were disjointed for much of the match.

The Italian side play Ajax in their next Group H fixture when Barcelona are at Parkhead and on last night's evidence, they will have to improve considerably if they are to reach the knockout stages, from which Allegri is not discounting the Scottish champions.

He said: "We had luck a couple of times in the game but it was a positive performance and an important victory for us.

"Celtic are a very good team.

"I believe they still have chances of qualifying out of the group but everything is still open so we will see."

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