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Neil Lennon says Celtic ‘threw away’ Champions League chance

Celtic were through with 11 minutes left but conceded two late goals
Celtic were through with 11 minutes left but conceded two late goals

Neil Lennon said his Celtic side “threw away” a place in the Champions League play-off round by conceding four “crazy” goals to CFR Cluj in Glasgow.

How have the fans reacted?

While Lennon argued the decision to start McGregor at left-back was not key to the defeat, many fans felt otherwise.

John: “Central midfield most certainly was a problem. Why? Because the best central midfielder at the club was playing left-back! Neil Lennon hasn’t a notion.”

Jock: “Callum McGregor is no left back. Huge loss in his natural position. Can’t understand why we had £10m worth of defenders on the bench watching this calamity unfold.”

Mike: “Neil Lennon, you have to take blame on this one. Wrong decision to play your best playmaker at full back. Then take lead again at 3-2 and still lose.”

Zayne: “Defence still needs fixing. If Cluj can score four goals at home then spend some money Celtic. There are good teams in the Europa League if we do qualify.”

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How much has this cost Celtic?

Had they held on, then edged past Slavia Prague in the play-off round to reach the Champions League group stage, Celtic would have been guaranteed 15.25m euros (£14.13m). Instead, should they progress past AIK of Sweden or Sherrif Tiraspol of Moldova in the Europa League play-offs, they will pick up a comparatively paltry 2.92m euros (£2.71m).

There is also a large disparity in earnings from further success – a group-stage win in the Champions League is worth more than 2m euros more than a Europa League group-stage victory. Reaching the knockout stages in the Champions League is worth 9m euros more than advancing in the Europa League would secure.

Scotland’s Uefa rankings coefficient could also be affected, although by how much depends on Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen’s performances in the remainder of the Europa League. Celtic also failed to reach the Champions League group stages last season, but that did not prevent Scottish football from securing its largest points haul for 11 years.

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About Oluwadamilare Funsho

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