‘Neil Lennon has deserved no criticism’ says Celtic’s two-goal Lille hero Mohamed Elyounoussi

There was no feeling from Celtic attacker Mohamed Elyounoussi that his two dazzling finishes that secured a 2-2 draw with Lille in the Europa League may have earned Neil Lennon some respite.

Lille's defender Zeki Celik vies for the ball with Celtic's midfielder Mohamed Elyounoussi during the UEFA Europa League Group H football match between Lille and Celtic on October 29, 2020 at the Grand Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP) (Photo by DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)
Lille's defender Zeki Celik vies for the ball with Celtic's midfielder Mohamed Elyounoussi during the UEFA Europa League Group H football match between Lille and Celtic on October 29, 2020 at the Grand Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP) (Photo by DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)

The Irishman has taken a pounding on the back of a, now, four game run without a win - which could have easily been ended in France but for the Scottish champions conceding twice in a fraught second period. However, the on-loan Southampton forward has no truck with the opprobrium that has come Lennon’s way following the 3-3 draw with Aberdeen that was preceded by losses to AC Milan and Rangers across the past fortnight.

“I don’t read the criticism,” said Elyounoussi. “And I don’t know why anyone should criticise him. He’s shown over many, many years that he’s a good manager. We believe in him and his staff. Of course it has been a difficult week for us but we have to stick together, stick to the plan and we’ll come out stronger. We are 100 per cent behind him. Of course.”

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

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

The moment seared into the mind of Elyounoussi following events in Lille proved not either of his two first-half goals but what ensued when he broke forward with the score tied at 2-2 late on.

“I don’t think too much about the ones I scored. I’m more disappointed with the moments in the second half when I could have passed it earlier or just gone for it, as I did in the first half. Obviously I’m happy with my two goals but still a bit disappointed I couldn’t get a hat-trick.

“Being written off was a motivation, of course. But we stuck to the plan and had a really good plan. We needed some luck as well. [Goalkeeper Scott] Bain was incredible, I scored two nice goals. We’re just disappointed not to get three points [after leading 2-0] but we played against a really good team at the top of the French table. So it’s OK.”

Celtic now return to Glasgow to begin preparations for their Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden Park on Sunday.

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