Celtic boss Neil Lennon targets next season's Champions League after European exit
Celtic boss Neil Lennon has set his sights on next season's UEFA Champions League after their early exit from Europe.
Last Updated: 26/11/13 11:34pm
The Scottish champions bowed out of the Champions League and Europe altogether after a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to Milan on Tuesday thanks to goals from Kaka, Cristian Zapata and Mario Balotelli.
Lennon was at a loss to explain how Celtic conceded the opening two goals from corners and was left to lament his side's lack of a killer touch as they failed to take any of the opportunities they created against Milan.
"It is difficult to explain the two corners because we pride ourselves on set-pieces and defending them," Lennon told Sky Sports News.
"Lapses of concentration when they should have been at their maximum. It's cost us the game because we were always in the game and the other thing is we didn't take our chances.
"We had some great chances tonight and that's been the story of the campaign for us, but that's where we are realistically. It might be the end of the road this year for the Champions League but we will endeavour to come again next year."
Lennon admitted Virgil van Dijk's miss early in the second half was the turning point in the game as Milan doubled their lead two minutes after the effort from the Celtic defender.
"Well it was [the turning point] because we concede two minutes later from another corner and that was maybe systematic of how our night went," added Lennon
"I didn't think my goalie had a great deal to do but the harsh reality of the Champions League sometimes is you have to be clinical when you are on top or have a good spell in the game and unfortunately we didn't do that tonight."
Despite crashing out of Europe before Christmas, Lennon insists he is proud of the players for their efforts and will try to lift them for the rest of the season.
"We have to pick ourselves up and go again," continued Lennon. "It's not the end of the world, I am very proud of the players.
"The big aim was to get into the Champions League this year, we did that we've had a go it's disappointing to end with a game left, but we will do everything we can to get back in it again next year."
Asked if a lack of quality had undone Celtic in Europe's premier competition this season, Lennon added: "Yes, but that is nothing to be ashamed of when you see the calibre of teams in the group.
"We have competed well in all the games, I thought we competed well again tonight we took the game to Milan in long periods in the game but the second goal did a lot of damage.
"The Champions League is the tournament everyone wants to play in and we have done that and we are not disgraced and we will look to improve on this season's campaign hopefully next year."