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The Northern Irishman hailed the Hoops' "brave" showing at Camp Nou and singled out goalkeeper Fraser Forster for praise after his outstanding performance

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has described himself as "immensely proud" of his side's performance against Barcelona on Tuesday, despite seeing them denied a famous point by Jordi Alba's stoppage-time strike.

The Hoops carved out a first-half lead at Camp Nou when Javier Mascherano diverted the ball into his own net, but a goal from Andres Iniesta just before the break and Alba's late finish turned the game on its head.

However, the Northern Irishman had nothing but kind words for his squad, telling Sky Sports: “I’m disappointed for the players and immensely proud of them.

“They were brave and they stuck to what we asked them to do, they didn’t lose their composure when they were under pressure, we knew we would lose the ball at certain times, but they didn’t concede any ground when they did.”

The Parkhead boss also highlighted the withdrawal of Georgios Samaras early on with injury as a key turning point in the game.

“I thought we were compact, we defended well, but losing Georgios was a blow at the time because he was causing Barcelona all sorts of problems," he added.

“We had a good chance from a header in the second half, but we come here knowing there was going to be a concerted amount of pressure and we tried to see it out.”
BHOUYED BY BARCA PERFORMANCE
10/1 Celtic are 10/1 with bet365 to beat Kilmarnock 3-1 in the SPL on the weekend

Lennon went on to hail goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who denied Lionel Messi on several occasions with a display of world class shot-stopping.

“He’s quality, top class and I think he can go really far in the game, he’s been fantastic, but as a group, the whole team, I can’t speak highly enough of them, we just needed to see it through, that was all," he said.

The 41-year-old remained coy, however, when asked whether his side could still qualify from Champions League Group G.

“I’m not making any assumptions, we’re playing it game by game and we’ll take whatever we can get out of the game," he continued.

"We didn’t budget for anything here tonight, but we were very close to getting something, the home game against Barcelona in a couple of weeks is a game I want to look forward to.

“It will hurt for a couple of days, but I don’t think I need to pick them up because they’ve been pretty brave tonight under a huge amount of pressure.”

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