Kennedy takes blame for Celtic's loss, stands by zonal marking

Malmo may have dominated Celtic with their attacking set-pieces, but the Scottish club will not abandon zonal marking.

Celtic coach John Kennedy has shouldered the blame for his team's poor defending against Malmo, which saw the club eliminated from the UEFA Champions League.

Kennedy is in charge of Celtic's defensive tactics at set-pieces and, while he accepts Malmo exploited the Glasgow club's zonal marking on Tuesday in Sweden, the 32-year-old argued man marking is not the solution.

Malmo defeated Celtic 2-0 in the second leg of their Champions League play-off at Swedbank Stadion to triumph 4-3 on aggregate, with both of the home side's goals coming from corners.

But Kennedy does not believe Malmo's victory proves that zonal marking is flawed.

"I'm a large part of that," Kennedy told the Scotsman.

"I have to take as much responsibility as anyone for set-plays and being ready for them. I shoulder the blame for part of that.

"As we move on, we'll look to tweak things and improve. But zonal marking is something that's stood us in good stead in the past and we'll make sure if there are any problems, we'll fix them.

"When you concede with zonal marking, the debate about it always starts. But when you concede from man-marking, no one bats an eyelid. We have worked on zonal marking, we firmly believe in it. We think the players we have are suited to it.

"In one game, it's not worked for us. Yet, over the course of last season I think domestically we conceded about two goals from set-pieces. But against Malmo we've conceded three over two games."

Kennedy added: "We put our big guys in the areas we think are the most dangerous. It's worked in the past, although I accept it didn't on Tuesday night. But it's not just down solely to zonal marking. You look at the whole performance and it just wasn't good enough.

"We showed in the first leg the potential we have as a team and how we can play. If we'd shown that in the second leg then there’s no doubt we would've gone through."