Celtic manager Neil Lennon slammed the part Brazilian superstar Neymar played in Scott Brown’s sending off in his side’s narrow 0-1 Champions League Group H defeat to Barcelona.
Despite Barca dominating possession the Hoops were holding the Catalan giants at bay until the 59th minute when Brown saw red for appearing to direct a kick at Neymar as he lay on the deck following a trip by the Celtic captain.
However, Lennon labelled the decision as soft and hit out at Neymar for his reaction following the incident, which he said changed the shape of the game.
“I didn’t think the initial tackle was a severe one. It’s a physical game and I don’t think Neymar does himself any favours by the way he behaves at times,” Lennon said.
“Neymar has a reputation in the game. Sometimes he exaggerates things a little bit. Having reviewed it I don’t think there was very much in it. There’s no question it’s a foul but the reaction certainly wasn’t merited.
If the referee was going to book Scott for the initial foul then the tap, if that’s what you want to call it, was it violent play? Was it dangerous play? I’m not so sure.
“If there was any contact it was minimal. I think there was a lot more going on in the game that merited heavier punishment.
“There was a lot of heavy challenges going on out there in the game. It was a very intense level of football. But was it a sending off? Not in my view. It was a game-changing decision.”
Lennon was bullish in his response after he was asked if he would apologise to Neymar if it was proven he was wrong. “Why should I apologise to him? Our supporters are very respectful of good players,” he said.
“Iniesta walked off tonight to a standing ovation from the Celtic support. Neymar, after the incident, gets booed every time he touches the ball, by our support. I’m not going to apologise to Neymar.”
Chelsea win 4-0
Elsewhere, Chelsea got their campaign back on track, after an embarrassing defeat to Basel, with a 4-0 rout of Steaua Bucharest.
Brazilian Ramires gave Chelsea the lead in the 19th minute. Samuel Eto’o played a role in the second goal a minute before half-time as his shot was saved, but the rebound went into the net off Steaua player Daniel Georgievski.
Ramires doubled his tally in the 55th minute and the rout was completed by Frank Lampard in the final minute of normal time.
> Basel 0-1 Schalke (Draxler)
> Marseille 0-3 Borussia Dortmund (Lewandowski 2, Reus)
> Porto (Martinez) 1-2 Atletico Madrid (Godin, Turan)
> Zenit Saint Petersburg 0-0 Austria Vienna
> Ajax (Denswil) 1-1 AC Milan (Balotelli)