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LENNON SALUTES CELTS AND GERS

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NEIL LENNON has praised Celtic AND Rangers for restoring pride in Scottish football.

The Hoops overcame Serie opponents Lazio 2-1 in their Europa League group E encounter at Parkhead on Thursday night after Steven Gerrard’s side had taken a point in a 1-1 draw with Porto in Portugal earlier in the evening.

The Parkhead men now top their section at the halfway stage, while the Ibrox outfit sit third in Group G with two home games to come.

Lennon insisted competing in the latter stages of the Champions League should NEVER be considered beyond the reaches of Scotland’s top clubs.

He believes the Glasgow teams’ European performances are doing wonders not just for the nation’s UEFA coefficient, but the worldwide reputation of our game.

Their efforts could boost the coefficient enough to guarantee later entry into both UEFA competitions, meaning the title winners would not have to go through four two-legged ties just to reach the group stage of the Champions League.

Lennon, speaking to the Daily Mail, said: “‘I don’t believe for one minute that the Champions League is way beyond any Scottish club. In time, we will be there again and challenging, hopefully breaking the ceiling of the last 16 again.

“Both teams are in the Europa League at the minute and performing very well. It’s the competition we are in, so we have to maximise what we have.

“We’ve done that before and we hope we can do it again.”

Lennon is taking nothing for granted over coefficient numbers, but is adamant that having two clubs with the possibility of competing to compete in European football beyond Christmas can only enhance the nation’s standing.

He added: “It’s great to have those nights back for the players, the fans and the club as a whole. It’s important to compete in those games, because you know what it means for everyone associated with the club — and Scottish football.

“We must add some gravitas back to the game, and both clubs are doing their best to bring that.

“We’re not getting carried away, but we’re halfway there and we are competing really well.

‘We are in a good position, but we will take it game by game.”

The Hoops’ next game is in Rome at 5.55pm a week on Thursday while Gerrard’s men face the Portuguese in their return match at Ibrox at 8pm.

 

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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