Celtic boss Lennon hails 'monumental' achievement

Neil Lennon celebrates his side's qualification for the last 16. Photo: PA

Celtic manager Neil Lennon hailed a "monumental achievement" by his side after they reached the knockout stages of the Champions League.

The Hoops beat Spartak Moscow 2-1 at Parkhead to qualify from Group G after Benfica could only draw 0-0 at Barcelona.

"It means a hell of a lot to the club," Lennon told Sky Sports. "It is a monumental achievement on our behalf.

"For the whole club to be at the big table in the new year is a phenomenal effort. To get 10 points is a phenomenal effort.

"I thought we did not play well in the first half, got a break with the goal and then we were slack for their goal. But second half we were a lot better, created good chances; we had to go for it and thankfully it came through for us."

Asked if tonight was the high point of his career, Lennon added: "Yeah, this is the premier event, the toughest of the tough. No-one gave us a prayer going into this group."

Gary Hooper, who opened the scoring in the first half, added: "It's a dream come true. The performance was great and we defended better in the second half."

Asked how far Celtic can go in the competition, Hooper added: "You never know. At home we can beat anyone - we showed that against Barca and tonight. We have to take it game by game."