Lennon: Players should be applauded for ‘amazing achievement’

The Celtic manager says his side were outstanding as they reached another cup final.

Lennon: Players should be applauded for ‘amazing achievement’ SNS Group

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes his team’s success in reaching an eighth consecutive cup final is “an amazing achievement” and is proof of the players’ mental strength.

Goals from Ryan Christie and Mohamed Elyounoussi ensured a 2-0 win over Aberdeen and kept Celtic’s lengthy knockout winning streak. The cup holders will now face Hearts in December’s final hoping to complete a fourth consecutive domestic treble.

“It’s an amazing achievement and I don’t know how many games unbeaten in the cups but it’s their eighth cup final in a row,” Lennon said. “Unprecedented.

“They’ve come through all challenges with flying colours. Difficult games, easy games, all types of weather – you have to take all that into consideration and applaud the character and mentality of the players as well as their ability.”

Celtic went into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw in the Europa League where Lennon had felt the players had shown signs of regaining their form after defeats to Rangers and Milan, followed by a draw at Pittodrie. Though he said there was tiredness on show in the later stages, the team had done the hard work before then.

“To follow on from a great performance in France, on a really heavy pitch, I thought we were very comfortable,” Lennon said.

“First half I thought we were outstanding but as expected the players tired. You could see them start to wane a little bit and we had to change the shape and the personnel.

“But we saw the game out comfortably and it’s another cup final. I’m sure there was a lot of expectation and pressure on them but they didn’t show any of it and handled the occasion very, very well.

“The pressure was on. We’ve had a heavy volume of games and we’ve come out on the other side of it now. I’m not saying everything is going to be plain sailing from here on in but we’re starting to show real form again.”

Looking ahead to the final, where a Hearts team featuring former Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon lie in wait, the Celtic boss said: “They’ve got Premiership quality and obviously a goalkeeper we know very well. He pulled off a couple of fantastic saves.

“It’s a cup final and we’re very much looking forward to it. The players want to achieve greatness and there’s one game to go.”

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