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Loovens hoping for 'strange' result
Published : 29 Jul 2010 16:23:00
Glenn Loovens admits Celtic need a "strange" result to keep their Champions League dream alive following a 3-0 defeat by Braga. Like manager Neil Lennon, Loovens insists the Hoops' third qualifying round clash is not over, despite last night's crushing defeat at the AXA Stadium. But the Dutch defender acknowledges it will take an epic turnaround to prevent his side crashing out of Europe's premier club competition and into the Europa League play-offs. "Everything happens in football," the 26-year-old said. "But, you have to be honest. We still have a game to go, but three goals is quite a lot. "Like I said, though, strange things can happen in football." Both sides looked off the pace last night in what was their first competitive match of the season, while the Portuguese heat perhaps also played a part. But Braga still managed to create several opportunities, while Celtic played like strangers, their four debutants all failing to make any impact. Asked if he thought the new-look side - containing summer signings Joe Ledley, Charlie Mulgrew, Efrain Juarez and Cha Du-Ri - could gel in time to for the second leg, Loovens said: "We will see. After this performance, you would like to think so. We need to step up, and step up quickly." Overturning a 3-0 first leg deficit is not without precedent in European football, but it is extremely rare. Celtic almost came back from 5-0 down five years ago against Artmedia Bratislava, winning the return leg of the second qualifying round clash 4-0 at Parkhead. One thing is clear, this tie will be over if they defend next week like they did last night. Loovens branded the manner in which he and his team-mates conceded two goals in the final 15 minutes as "a joke". The visitors looked to be heading for a 1-0 defeat after conceding a controversial first-half penalty to Alan but they allowed Braga to score twice from set pieces late in the game. Loovens said: "It was not good enough for the Champions League. We gave away an easy penalty, but I never felt we were in trouble of any sort in the game because they didn't really spread us open. "To be fair, we have to be better on the ball, because we could not put three passes together. "In the second half, we continued to play badly on the ball, but hardly gave anything away. Then, two sloppy set pieces and you are 3-0 behind. "It was already hard. But, how we gave the last two goals away was a joke. "You would take 1-0 home, and everything is wide open. But now 3-0 behind, it makes it a tough task for us." Emphasising just how poor Celtic were in possession, Loovens added: "We gave the ball away so sloppily that it was hard to get into the game because they came at us, attack after attack. "We couldn't get three passes together, and it is hard to get into the game like that. "Yet, we hardly gave anything away, and to concede three goals from set pieces is hard to swallow." Although insisting the buck stopped with the players, Loovens echoed his manager's criticism of the officials, particularly assistant referee Frank Bleyen's decision to penalise Ki Sung-Yeung for handball in the box. He said: "It was hard for me to see. I think it came off his chest. Maybe it touched his arm, but he (Bleyen) could not get his flag up quickly enough." Summing up the feelings of the entire squad, he added: "With 15 minutes to go, we all felt we had it under control."