Lennon hoping for European improvement
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Celtic manager Neil Lennon says his side can do better as they warmed up for their crucial Champions League play-off match with a 2-0 win away against Aberdeen.

A Kris Commons penalty, after Aberdeen goalkeeper Jamie Langfield had been sent off for bringing down Georgios Samaras, put Celtic in front just before the break, and substitute James Forrest then wrapped up the points at the death with a deflected goal.

The win maintains Celtic's unbeaten start to the season and sets them up perfectly for their long trip to Kazakhstan to face Shakhtyor Karagandy in the Champions League play-off, first leg, on Tuesday. It was far from a vintage performance from the Hoops but with several first team stars missing and only a day to prepare following the international break Lennon was pleased to grind out a victory.

"I'm satisfied with the win but we can do a lot better," the Celtic manager admitted. "However, we are very, very light in numbers at the moment and hopefully we will have four or five players to add to the squad travelling to Kazakhstan.

"It was a hard fought win and we set the team out to stop them getting a dominance in midfield and it took us a while to get going really," Lennon admitted. "I thought in the first 15 or 20 minutes we were a bit tentative but towards the end of the first half I thought we began to dominate the game

"We got a breakthrough with the sending off and the penalty and then after that I thought we controlled the match and had chances to put the game away. At 1-0 Aberdeen were always still in the hunt but I'm absolutely delighted. The boys have been away for a long time and we've had one day to prepare them for this game so it's a massive win for us."

Unknown quantities
The Celtic squad will now make the long trip to Kazakhstan and when asked what he knew about the team that stands between the Hoops and the riches of the competition's group stage, Lennon said: "Not a lot apart from the footage we have seen. They are a big physical team and I am having them watched on Saturday so I will know more about them when we get there on Sunday.

"They are very direct and can go back to front very quickly and they have beaten two good teams to get here so they have got to be respected. We will have a report on Shakhtyor and we will start our work tomorrow."

The Hoops have lost some key players in the summer with last season's top-scorer Gary Hooper joining Norwich City and the impressive Victor Wanyama signing with Southampton, while defender Kelvin Wilson returned to Nottingham Forest.

Celtic boss Lennon is desperate to strengthen his squad ahead of Monday's Champions League qualifying transfer deadline and has had a bid rejected for 23-year-old Finnish international striker Teemu Pukkj by German club Schalke.

Visa difficulties would make it impossible to jet Pukki straight to Kazakhstan for the first leg if Celtic can thrash out a deal for the attacker. But Lennon wants the Finn, who scored against Spain in a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier in March, available to him as they seek to finish the job at Parkhead the following week.

"It's a bit frustrating as Schalke don't want to sell so we have a bit of a fight on to acquire his services," Lennon admitted. "We've made a bid and made other offers as well. We haven't drawn a line under yet but it's proving difficult to get him in."