Lennon praises Celtic effort

Manager laments handball decision against Udinese

Neil Lennon: Celtic manager pleased with his players┬┐ performance against Udinese

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon has praised his players for their effort against Udinese in their final Europa League Group I game on Thursday despite failing to progress to the last 32 of the competition.

The Scottish giants headed into their game in Udine needing to win to reach the knockout stages and even took the lead on 29 minutes through Gary Hooper.

It was cancelled out by Antonio Di Natale's strike on the stroke of half-time, but Celtic had at least at least one decent penalty shout as well as Cha Du-ri hitting his volley against the Italian club's post in the second period.

Lennon, though, was pleased with the effort put in by his side and told ESPN: "I was very proud of the team, everyone made a fantastic contribution and with a bit of luck we'd be through.

"I thought there was a clear handball, I though it hit one of their centre-backs on the arm, we hit the post, we had one cleared off the line.

"In terms of chances it was almost as good as we've played.

"To come away from home, to Italy of all places, and play like that was good to see."

Forster praise

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster was vital to keeping Celtic's hopes alive with a string of fine saves and Lennon likened the on-loan Newcastle United custodian to a former Hoops favourite.

"We had Artur Boruc a couple of years ago and in Forster, I think we've found another one like that," he enthused.

"There were some top-class saves. You need your goalkeeper like that."