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Celtic boss Lennon slams 'pro-Juventus' referee

The Hoops manager was critical of official Alberto Undiano Mallenco, believing he should have awarded at least two penalties to the home side as it slumped to a 3-0 defeat.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has described referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco's performance as "pro-Juventus" following his side's 3-0 defeat to the Italians champion in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg matchup.

Lennon insisted the Hoops were denied two clear penalties for grappling in the box as they were ruthlessly swept aside by Antonio Conte's men at Parkhead.

"I thought [the referee] was poor," Lennon told reporters. "I thought he was very pro-Juventus. I was disappointed with his performance to say the least.

"Every time one of my players was moving or trying to lose his man he was fouled, time and time again. He should have given a penalty on at least two occasions for us."

Lennon went on to claim his side deserved more, and he lamented the performance of defender Efe Ambrose, who was risked upon his return from a victorious Africa Cup of Nations campaign with Nigeria.

"I think the scoreline flatters Juventus. I thought for the best part of the game, 70-odd minutes up until the second goal we were by far the better side - but we can't give away the goals we gave away. It was sloppy," Lennon said. "We took a gamble [on Ambrose], I thought he was poor for the first goal, but we had a great opportunity to equalize and we had some great chances to be fair. We played ever so well for long periods of the game, and we switched off defensively for the second goal and the third goal was poor.

Lennon remained realistic about his side's chances of progression to the quarterfinals considering the hill to climb at Juventus Stadium in the return leg.

"We'll need a miracle. It’s the harsh reality of Champions League football," Lennon said. "Some of our young players will have learned a lot tonight."

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