NEIL LENNON says that Ryan Christie’s red card cost Celtic dear as they fell to defeat at Livingston to fall two points behind Rangers at the top of the Premiership.

Celtic were reduced to 10 men in the first half as Christie saw red for a wild challenge on Scott Robinson, with referee Willie Collum instantly dismissing the Scotland midfielder.

Robinson recovered to give his side a deserved lead just after the break, before Lyndon Dykes made sure that the points stayed at the Toni Macaroni Arena with a well-taken second for the home team.

That meant Celtic dropped points for the second consecutive week on the road following a draw against Hibernian at Easter Road last time out, but Lennon is refusing to press the panic button just yet.

"You can't panic but I am expecting better,” Lennon said.

"I did tell them before the game that the fixture was a concern. It's a dangerous opponent in a dangerous environment. I knew Livi would up for it and they were. We needed to match that.

"It's a poor result. We started the game okay, we were quite bright and there was a good tempo and intensity. Then we lose Ryan very early and we have to readjust.

"We were okay going in at half-time and I felt we could go on and win it. But it was really passive from us for the first goal and then we have tried to force the issue with 10 men.

"We put a certain amount of pressure on the goal without working the keeper enough.

"Our decision making wasn't great at time and then we should be doing better at the second goal. We should be dealing with that.

"It's possibly down to fatigue. They are human beings and they put a lot into the game on Thursday. Then you need to play a long time with 10 men, so that could have been a factor.

"I hoped the subs would help us but they didn't really impact the game as we would have liked.

“I didn't really think about making more changes. We put a strong team out. We were comfortable early on in a difficult environment without really testing their goal.

"I felt we were in control until the red card.”

Despite Lennon’s feelings that the outcome of the game hinged on Christie’s dismissal, he believes that referee Collum made the correct call.

"I have no issue with the red card,” he said. “It's totally unlike him but he was late.

"It may look worse than it was in slow-motion but yeah, it's a red card.

"I'm not happy about and it cost us, but it's not like Ryan.”

Lennon’s ire instead was focused at his dozy defenders, who he believed were culpable for both of Livingston’s goals.

He was annoyed by the lack of intensity and aggressiveness from his men, allowing Robbie Crawford acres of space on the edge of the area to pick out Robinson for the first goal, before being undone by a long punt over the top for the second.

"We let Crawford get turned far too easily and he was able to play the pass,” he said.

"We should be up on him, making him go the other way.

"We work on that and we are normally aggressive around our own defensive box.

"That was disappointing but you still think, 'Eventually we will get one'. But the second goal put a huge dent in that and it's a poor goal. It's a straight ball over the top and Dykes got in behind the two centre halves.

"It's a great finish but he should never get to that position.”