Tue, 12 Feb 2013 22:49:00 – Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted his side need a miracle to remain in the UEFA Champions League after a 3-0 home defeat to Juventus in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
The Scottish side were made to pay for two defensive blunders and a failure to make the most of their own opportunities as a brave and determined display ultimately counted for nothing against the Serie A leaders.
Alessandro Matri opened the scoring in the opening moments after a blunder from Efe Ambrose, with the defender again at fault for Mirko Vucinic's late third, with Claudio Marchisio also on target.
Celtic's European adventure looks to be over for another season ahead of the second leg in Turin on March 6 and Lennon told Sky Sports: "It is going to take a miracle.
"We will compete, we will try and score, we will try and make the tie competitive but it is a very tall order now.
"I am bitterly disappointed, I think the scoreline flatters Juventus, but that is the harsh reality of football at this level.
"We were excellent for 75-80 minutes. The second goal is a sucker-punch but the third goal was really poor from our point of view. Some of our football tonight was excellent and I didn't think that there were three goals between the teams."
The Celtic boss was particularly unimpressed with the performance of Spanish referee Alberto Mallenco, with the official doing little to stop regular incidents of wrestling in the Juve box as Celtic prepared to take corners.
"I thought he was poor," Lennon admitted. "I thought he was very pro-Juventus. I was disappointed with his performance to say the least.
"They were being fouled at every occasion. The referee is looking at it. They were putting their arms around players, blocking their runs, trying to pull them down...
"The game must be different in Spain and in Italy from what it is in Britain because you cannot do that in the penalty box because it is a penalty."
Ambrose had played for Nigeria in their Africa Cup of Nations Cup final win over Burkina Faso on Sunday and did not arrive back in Glasgow until the morning of the game, with Lennon admitting selecting the defender had backfired.
"He was poor for the first goal and then he has missed a great chance to make it 1-1," he said.
"Unfortunately for him he has just had one of those nights. I am not sure if it was fatigue or a lack of concentration, but the third goal is very disappointing from Efe's point of view."
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The high-flying Somerset side continued their play-off charge after second-half goals from James Hayter, Nathan Ralph and Paddy Madden overturned Chris Beardsley's first-half opener.
The hosts flew out of the traps and came close to taking the lead from a number of early chances, with Kevin Dawson, Hayter and in-form Madden all spurning attempts.
However, against the run of play, striker Beardsley silenced the Huish Park faithful on the half-hour mark with a crisp right-footed finish.
Yeovil continued to press before the break with Ed Upson's curling 25-yard effort dropping narrowly over before Madden did have the ball in the net - only to be ruled out for offside.
Beardsley came within inches of doubling his side's lead with a glancing header in the second half before Hayter expertly flicked home Madden's driven cross to draw level in the 73rd minute.
Seven minutes later, substitute Ralph slammed home his first senior goal from close range before Madden notched his ninth goal in six games to extend the Lilywhites' dire run to seven games without a win.
Torquay dominated the first half, but the Millers went ahead early in the second period on Tuesday night thanks to Torquay keeper Michael Poke's slip.
Poke seemed to have Lee Frecklington's 46th-minute 20-yard strike covered but the ball squirmed up and over the diving keeper and in.
It was the spark Rotherham needed and forward Alex Revell raced down the left before slotting the ball past advancing Poke to make it 2-0 after 59 minutes with a clinical angled strike into the far corner.
Torquay pulled a goal back in stoppage time when Billy Bodin won and converted a penalty after being fouled by Mark Bradley.
The Gulls' joy was short-lived as Rotherham scored straight from kick-off as Kayode Odejayi tapped in a right-wing cross from fellow substitute Courtney Cameron to put it to bed.