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Manager: We must all accept responsibility for Euro defeat

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FOLLOWING tonight’s 4-3 defeat to CFR Cluj in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, Neil Lennon rued a disappointing first-half performance. The Romanian champions progressed 5-4 on aggregate, and the manager said he and players must take collective responsibility.

“In the first half we were so passive,” said the manager after the game. “We weren’t physical enough, and all the nuts and bolts of the game weren’t there. We got a warning beforehand and then lost the goal when we did the exact same thing again.

“After half-time, we got the right response, but we shot ourselves in the foot with the goals we conceded. We had the lead twice and threw it away.”

The manager said he and his players have only themselves to blame, and that exiting the Champions League at this stage is a huge disappointment they all must shoulder. From here, Neil Lennon stressed the importance of taking stock before focusing on Europa League qualification, as well as League Cup duties this weekend.

He added: “We need to be more ruthless at times. We’ve only ourselves to blame. It’s hugely disappointing for us all. We’re going to have to accept the criticism that comes our way. We need to regroup and make sure we qualify for the Europa League.

“We all wanted Champions League football and we’ve only ourselves to blame for not getting that. We’ve been loose, and in the important moments of the game, we switched off. The players are bitterly disappointed, and we accept blame as a collective.” 

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