CELTIC boss Neil Lennon admitted he was “devastated” at last night’s shock Champions League exit following the demoralising 2-1 loss to Ferencvaros at Parkhead.
It was the third time in just over a year the Hoops had been sent packing in a European competition in the east end of Glasgow following last season’s 4-3 loss to Romania’s Cluj and 3-1 to Denmark’s FC Copenhagen.
A goal from Ryan Christie couldn’t prevent Scotland’s title kings from an embarrassing defeat that saw a blunder from Hatem Abd Elhamed present the visitors with their winning goal in the 75th minute to go as the pacy Topmac rolled the ball through the legs of keeper Vasilis Barkas.
Celtic will now drop into the Europa League which will be scant reward to the team after blowing a potential £30million bonanza in the group stages of Europe’s elite competition.
Lennon, speaking on Sky Sports News, said: “I’m devastated. It shouldn’t happen. It’s a poor result and we dominated the game. We had so many chances, but we conceded two really poor goals.
“We all have to take responsibility for it. I have to take responsibility in terms of the team selection, but we had more than enough chances to win the game twice over.
“For the first goal, only Browny is getting out to close the shot while the second one is an individual error which we should’ve dealt with comfortably.
“It was a basic mistake. We’re making basic defensive mistakes and sometimes you can’t legislate for that. We did the same against Copenhagen when we were on top. Hatem was in a decent position and all he had to do was deal with it, but he doesn’t.
“But in the final third we should’ve done better as well as we had so many chances to score.
“The players need to buckle up. They’ve been okay, but some of their attitudes needs to be better. I’m just detecting a bit of malaise sometimes among them and they’re not as good as they think they are. We need to analyse where we went wrong and focus on the rest of the season.”
Celtic last reached the group stages in 2017 and were toiling as early as the seventh minute when some sloppy defensive play following a left-wing corner-kick allowed David Siger to score with a low drive from 20 yards.
Lennon’s side then dominated possession and deservedly levelled eight minutes into the second period when Christie’s effort deflected in.
But striker Tokmac delivered the decisive blow to consign the nine-in-a-row champions to their worst performance in the competition since Artmedia Bratislava knocked them out in 2005.
Two seasons ago, it was AEK Athens while last campaign it was Cluj and Celtic may now have to negotiate the third qualifying round and a play-off to reach the group stages of the Europa League.