Lennon: We will go out fighting

05 March 2013 05:48

Neil Lennon wants his Celtic players to go down fighting if, as expected, their Champions League campaign ends against Juventus in Turin on Wednesday night.

The Hoops are 3-0 down from the first leg of their last-16 tie and almost certain to exit the competition to the Serie A leaders. At his press conference in Turin on Tuesday afternoon, the Parkhead boss recalled a "fantastic" European run this season before insisting his players battle right to the end.

The former Parkhead skipper said: "They have excelled, absolutely excelled, and they have done the club and Scotland proud. They have one more crack at it so if we do go out, we want to go out on our shield."

He added: "We haven't had Champions League football for four or five years. We had some fantastic nights, even against Juventus the atmosphere was amazing.

"Barcelona, Benfica, to have those nights back at Celtic Park has been truly memorable for me. And going up against the best teams in the world, the best coaches in the world, has been a fantastic experience for a group of players who are relatively young in their careers and who haven't cost a lot of money."

Lennon admits it would be a "minor miracle" if the Scottish champions were to win the tie, but is looking for his players to enjoy the experience.

"It would be a tall order to win the tie 4-0 or 4-1, but we are capable of winning the game and that's what we would like to do," he said. "If we win we would it would equal the club record (of wins in Europe in a season).

"Juventus are top of the league again and the draw could have been kinder to us, but we want to close the gap on the scoreline and we will have to play at our optimum level to do that.

"It is a fantastic game to play in. We may not be here again as a group, you are playing the champions of Italy who are a very good team so enjoy it. Enjoy the stadium, enjoy the atmosphere, don't be intimidated.

"Go and play. The pressure is really off so try to restore some respectability in the tie, play your football and win the game. So we have a lot to play for, there are a lot of incentives. However, to qualify would take a minor miracle."

Source: PA