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Neil Lennon urges Celtic to tighten up defensively

Aberdeen v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – Pittodrie Stadium
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Neil Lennon was again dismayed by Celtic’s defending in the 3-3 draw with Aberdeen at Pittodrie which saw them drop two points in the Premiership title race.

The Hoops went into the game after losing 2-1 at home to Rangers last weekend and 3-1 to AC Milan at Celtic Park on Thursday night and fell behind to a Lewis Ferguson penalty just before the interval.

A spectacular second half ensued with Callum McGregor levelling before Dons attacker Ryan Hedges restored the home side’s lead.

Hoops substitute Leigh Griffiths equalised with a drive in the 75th minute and Ryan Christie scored with a penalty two minutes later but Derek McInnes’ men were awarded a second penalty in added time and Ferguson was again on the mark.

The Celtic boss said: “I was disappointed not to come away with all three points.

“When you score three goals away from home, you think you are going to win the game.

“I think there is a little bit of fragility with a few of them, not playing with a major amount of confidence but again plenty of positives.

“The response second half was tremendous but we need to tidy up defensively.

“That’s eight goals in three games, it’s not good enough.

“In the main I was satisfied, particularly with the second-half performance but defensively we need to do a lot better.

“There is still a long way to go. The players had a tough week, we could have played better.

“We will improve, there is no question of that, I’m confident of that and we will get players back from Covid and injuries.

“So there is a long way to go, defensively we are making too many individual mistakes and collective mistakes and that is not on the goalkeeper, Scott Bain was very good today.”

Bain took over from regular number one Vasilis Barkas who has a back injury which will be assessed before the Europa League clash with Lille on Thursday night.

Lennon revealed that French striker Odsonne Edouard and Israel defender Nir Bitton, both missing with Covid issues along with Hatem Elhamed, are on their way back.

He said: “We will see how Odsonne and Nir are, hopefully they will join training tomorrow so hopefully they will be available.

“Elhamed is back tomorrow but obviously he will be another week or so.”

Dons boss McInnes admits he could not have stood to have come away from the game with nothing.

He said: “If we hadn’t got something from that game it would have been an absolute travesty.

“We were so good in the second half for long spells. We have had late winners against us on a couple of occasions, not just here but at Celtic Park as well against Celtic.

“You get a few pats on the back and plaudits for your efforts and putting up a good show and all that sort of nonsense and I couldn’t have been doing with that today.

“We needed to get something from that game and I was glad we got something from the game, no more than we deserved.”

McInnes revealed Dylan McGeouch could be out of next week’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden Park with an “overstretched groin”.

McInnes said: “I hope we got Marley (Watkins) off in time with a tight hamstring and next week’s game we will have a few more ready than they were for this one.”