NEIL Lennon last night admitted that Celtic had shot themselves in the foot by gifting Copenhagen soft goals in a 3-1 defeat at Parkhead that saw them crash out of the Europa League.

The Scottish champions had dominated their Danish counterparts in the second leg of the last 32 tie – but fell behind in the second-half when Michael Santos netted after a bad error by centre half Jozo Simunovic.

Scott Brown and his team mates fought back and levelled the tie with eight minutes remaining when referee Artur Dias awarded them a penalty, which Odsonne Edouard converted, after consulting VAR.

However, Pep Biel and Dame N’Doye both scored for Stale Solbakken’s side in the last five minutes to ensure the Superliga club won 4-2 on aggregate and went through to the last 16.

“As you can imagine, I’m hugely disappointed,” said Lennon. “We basically shot ourselves in the foot. In the first-half we had total control. I don’t remember Fraser (goalkeeper Forster) having to do anything. I was pretty pleased. Then we made a mistake and gave them oxygen.

“We deserved to equalise. But we didn’t manage the game. We had a great opportunity and we let it go. It is bitterly disappointing because of the manner of the defeat.

“We overplayed it at the back and really should have gone to the goalkeeper and reset. We play a loose ball in midfield and get punished for it. Copenhagen didn’t have to work hard to get their goals.”

Lennon, whose side had beaten Lazio, Cluj and Rennes in the group stages and topped their section, refused to single out Simunovic for blame despite the Celtic defender gifting Copenhagen their opening goal.

“These players have been brilliant for me and I am not going to criticise them,” he said. “They are intelligent boys. They know they have let themselves down. We have had a good Europa League run. I am really disappointed it has ended.

“I am not going throw anyone under a bus – we win as a team, we lose as a team. We let ourselves down at really important points in the game.

"I have a duty of care to him (Simunovic). He has come back from a long-term injury and has been absolutely fantastic. Yes, he made a mistake. If I need to pick him up I will. He has been magnificent for me. He made a mistake, he held his hands up and we move on."

Lennon added: “They will be hurting at the minute and the fans will be hurting as well. I don’t think we need to analyse what went wrong – it is basic individual mistakes that cost us. We have to make sure we learn from that.

“It is an opportunity lost. In the first 45 minutes we were in total control. Then the psychology of the tie changes. We had a 100 per cent record in the group stages. I don’t know if fatigue had anything to do with it. Individual mistakes cost us.”