BEING criticised in defeat is one thing, but at a club like Celtic, criticism can also be commonplace after a victory.

Nobody knows this better than their current manager Neil Lennon, but he was sufficiently moved by the blowback from their last-gasp 1-0 win over Riga during the week to issue a rebuke to his critics, insisting that his side’s detractors are guilty of underestimating the level of the opposition.

“It was a dominant performance with 70-odd percent possession,” he said.

“I wasn’t happy with some of the narratives after the game in terms of headlines where we 'toiled' and 'scraped through' – we didn’t.

“We were in total control of the game. Yes, we didn’t hammer them 3-0 or 4-0. We could have done. (Albian) Ajeti hit the post, we had another chance flash across the line, (Callum) McGregor flashed one across in the first half, the keeper made a decent save from (Ryan) Christie. It wasn’t as if we weren’t creating chances. (Jeremie) Frimpong, particularly in the second half, was a real catalyst for us going forward.

“The goalkeeper wasn’t really called upon. Whatever they threw at us, we defended set-plays very well. It was a difficult pitch. They didn’t water it beforehand and it was very sticky.

“I’m delighted. The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic at the minute. There’s a good camaraderie among them and that comes from winning games.

“It’s a great result. I thought we dominated the game and could have had a couple of goals before the winner actually came. It was difficult conditions and a difficult pitch against a very highly motivated team who set their stall out to make it difficult for us.

“We had to be patient and it’s another away win in Europe which is testament to the players over the last couple of years that they’ve handled these occasions very well.

“We’re delighted to be through. It’s a win and a clean sheet. While we’re though, we know there’s more to come from the team.”

Lennon believes that his team will indeed have to show more to progress through the play-off round of the Europa League on Thursday against FK Sarajevo, a team he knows well after overcoming the Bosnians in last season’s Champions League qualifiers.

“I think they are pretty similar [to last year],” he said. “They have changed some personnel, but in terms of style of play I think they are pretty similar to last season. Big, strong, athletic, physical outfit.

“The game is not going to be in Sarajevo, from what we gather it will be in Zeneca. We will prepare as best we can.

“It is a difficult one. It was difficult out there last season, but hopefully that experience will stand us in good stead for next week, but we are expecting a very tough tie.”

A tough tie also lies ahead at Celtic Park this afternoon in Lennon’s estimation, with his own former club Hibernian coming to Glasgow with the aim of leapfrogging their opposition in the table.

Lennon will be doing all he can to stop that from happening, even though he feels he owes a debt of gratitude to the Easter Road club for reigniting his passion for the game again.

"I loved it,” he said. “The players were great, the club was great. We had two great seasons.

“It was difficult to maintain that, but I really enjoyed the players there, off the back of winning the Scottish Cup you could see there was some real talent there. We had a really good first season getting promotion and then the second season was fantastic as well getting into Europe, playing some great stuff, scoring lots of goals and the club itself was in a really good place, so it really refreshed me and I really enjoyed doing that.”

Jack Ross is currently enjoying his own tenure at Easter Road, and Lennon is looking forward to see how his team cope with their current busy run of games against such high-fling opposition.

"It has been a heavy schedule and it's difficult game on Sunday against Hibs, who are playing very well this season and had a very good result last weekend,” he said.

“They will be buoyed by that. I know a lot of the players and they are good players at this level, they have a very good manager and have made a great start to the season. It's a game to get our teeth into and look forward to.

"[Jack]'s done a cracking job and they have recruited well. He's got players who were maybe underperforming previously playing with a bit of confidence and scoring goals, which you expect from a Hibs team. When their tails are up, they are a handful for anybody.”