The official website for European football

Celtic to raise their game, says Lennon

Published: Thursday 2 August 2012, 10.55CET
Neil Lennon said his Celtic FC team would be "sharper" for next week's return against HJK Helsinki after the Scottish champions came from behind to win the home leg 2-1.
by Alex O'Henley
from Celtic Park
Celtic to raise their game, says Lennon
Celtic players congratulate Gary Hooper on his equalising strike ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 2 August 2012, 10.55CET

Celtic to raise their game, says Lennon

Neil Lennon said his Celtic FC team would be "sharper" for next week's return against HJK Helsinki after the Scottish champions came from behind to win the home leg 2-1.

Celtic FC manager Neil Lennon is confident a week's extra preparation will give his side the edge they need ahead of next Wednesday's return leg against HJK Helsinki having come from behind to win 2-1 at Celtic Park.

I'm delighted with the way we came back after going a goal behind. It's a huge improvement on where we were last year
Neil Lennon
It's especially important to get a goal away from home. The tempo and the skill level of this game was much higher than what we're used to
Anti Muurinen

Gary Hooper, who equalised after Rasmus Schüller opened the scoring for the visitors, is confident the Hoops can get the goals required to take them into the UEFA Champions League play-off round. HJK coach Antti Muurinen, meanwhile, was satisfied to have left Glasgow with an away goal.

Neil Lennon, Celtic manager
I'm delighted with the way we came back after going a goal behind. It's a huge improvement on where we were last year. We have a week to get ready and with a game at the weekend we'll hopefully be even sharper for the return. I'm disappointed that the goal we lost came at a time when we were attacking, but we showed great spirit and character to come back from a goal down. The final ball and our finishing in front of goal could have been better but overall I can't be too critical.

Gary Hooper, Celtic forward
That was our first competitive game of the season and while the fitness levels are good you could see the sharpness is not quite there yet. The game at the weekend [against Aberdeen] will help. We're not going to go and sit in and defend. We will go to play football like we did tonight.

If we are solid enough at the back we have enough attacking options to win the tie. It was a great pass from [Giorgos] Samaras for my goal and I just slotted it away from the keeper at the back post. I look to score in every game, that's my aim, and if chances come my way I'll be looking to take them in the return leg.

Antti Muurinen, HJK coach
It's the result that matters most and the result we have means we have a good chance in the home game. It's especially important to get a goal away from home. The tempo and the skill level of this game was much higher than what we're used to, but I was very happy with the first 45 minutes. The team fought with great spirit tonight. Celtic played a good game and the atmosphere was amazing but if you had offered me this scoreline beforehand, yes I would have taken it.

Last updated: 02/08/12 13.47CET

Related information

Player profiles
Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=1844571.html#celtic+raise+their+game+says+lennon

UEFA.com features

More away day blues in store?
  • More away day blues in store?
  • Charleroi, Deva, Alumnus challenge Dina
  • Inter return delights Ricardinho and Ortiz
  • Rešetár: Chrudim focus on Europe
  • Masterclass: Ibrahimović on beating opponents
  • Bulgaria buzzing as Ludogorets host Real Madrid
  • Durmaz thrilled by Malmö return with Olympiacos
  • Provincial trio threaten Belfast dominance
  • Penalty shoot-outs: the long and the short of it
  • Who are FC Olimpik Donetsk?
1 of 10
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.