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Celtic’s first cup defeat in four years leaves Lennon in the firing line

Glasgow (AFP) – Neil Lennon admitted his job as Celtic coach is hanging by a thread after a 2-0 home League Cup defeat by Ross County saw the Scottish champions lose a domestic cup tie for the first time in four years.

Ross Stewart’s first-half penalty and an Alex Iacovitti header five minutes from time ended Celtic’s 35-game winning run in cup competitions.

Lennon’s men have won just two of their last 10 games in all competitions to also crash out of the Europa League and fall 11 points behind Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Angry mobs of fans gathered outside Celtic Park after the match to demand Lennon’s removal and vent their frustrations towards the players as they left the stadium in what Scotland’s Justice Minister Humza Yousaf described as “disgraceful scenes.”

Glasgow is currently under Scotland’s most severe coronavirus restrictions.

“Utterly disgraceful scenes outside of Celtic Park from a minority of fans tonight with violence aimed towards Police,” Yousaf tweeted. “Officers have been front & centre keeping us safe during this pandemic, to treat them this way at any time is shameful, to do it during these times is a disgrace.”

Lennon insisted in his pre-match press conference on Friday he had the full backing of major shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell.

However, there was no sign of a response from his players and the Northern Irishman admitted after the match his time may be up.

“Today’s result won’t have helped,” said Lennon. “There is a demand for excellence and a demand for wins at this club. I’m not standing here like a happy clapper saying ‘Everything’s ok’. 

“I’m the face of the football department. It’s my philosophy, my tactics, what I am trying to work out is why we are more of less the same squad who were rampant last year and we’ve certainly not been rampant this year.”

Celtic will have the chance to claim a 12th consecutive major trophy in Scotland in next month’s delayed Scottish Cup final.

But the first silverware of 2021 will bring a changing of the guard with Rangers now heavy favourites to secure their first trophy under Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard’s men romped into the quarter-finals with a 4-0 win at Falkirk.

Jermain Defoe, Calvin Bassey, Borna Barisic and James Tavernier were on target as Rangers set up a clash with St Mirren in the last eight.

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