Neil Lennon admits Celtic "softness" could harm title challenge

Neil Lennon believes a recurring a softness in the Celtic defence could fatally undermine their title hopes after his side dropped two points in a 2-2 draw with Hibs at Easter Road.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the 2-2 draw with Hibs at Easter Road (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the 2-2 draw with Hibs at Easter Road (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The Celtic manager was relieved to have earned a point after his side trailed 2-0 with 12 minutes left. A penalty from Odsonne Edouard and injury time leveller from Diego Laxalt – his first goal for the club – means the gap between Celtic and leaders Rangers at the top is currently eight points, with the potential to increase to 11 when the Ibrox side face Aberdeen tomorrow. “There's a softness about us defensively that we have got to eradicate,” said Lennon.

Lennon was critical of skipper Scott Brown, who was penalised for a needless push in the box on Martin Boyle after 50 minutes. Jamie Murphy converted the rebound after Scott Bain saved Kevin Nisbet’s penalty. Nisbet put Hibs two up shortly afterwards.

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Celtic: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Lennon. “Scott's made a really rash decision that was unnecessary. The second goal is awful. It's just lazy. It's a free header and we didn't track the run and just let Nisbet get the shot off.

"The first goal comes out of nothing. Scott, who was playing very well, has a real rush of blood for some reason. He needs to take that out of his game.

Brown was replaced by Shane Duffy after 71 minutes as Celtic switched to a back three in an effort to save the game. The change helped gain a point, but Lennon knows Celtic can ill-afford too many more slip-ups.

“This team is capable of going on a good run but they have to be mentally tuned in week in, week out and it was apparent today that some of them switched off mentally,” he said.

“We don’t do the dirty bits well enough and we need to get rid of that softness because teams are highly motivated against us.”

On the news, received on the eve of the game, that David Turnbull had tested positive for Covid-19 after being away with the Scotland Under 21s, he said: “It’s an absolute shambles – you give these players in good faith.”

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