McKENNA: DON’T PIN IS­RAEL LOSS ON KT

Evening Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW LIND­SAY

SCOTT McKenna last night ab­solved Kieran Tier­ney from any blame for the de­feat Scot­land suf­fered against Is­rael and promised to help lift the Celtic de­fender’s morale ahead of the Por­tu­gal friendly.

Tier­ney scored a sec­ond­half own goal in Haifa on Thurs­day evening that ul­ti­mately gave their op­po­nents a nar­row 2-1 tri­umph in the Na­tions League match.

He ac­cepted full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the loss af­ter­wards and pub­licly apol­o­gised to the Scot­land sup­port­ers who had booed their own team fol­low­ing the fi­nal whis­tle in the Sammy Ofer Sta­dium.

But McKenna, the Aberdeen cen­tre-half who came on for the in­jured Char­lie Mul­grew at half­time and played along­side Tier­ney, felt there was no need for his team-mate to be so harsh on him­self.

And he stressed that ev­ery mem­ber of Alex McLeish’s squad will be

get­ting firmly be­hind the de­fender to en­sure he is in a pos­i­tive frame of mind for the friendly with Euro 2016 cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal at Ham­p­den to­mor­row evening.

“It was ab­so­lutely not Kieran’s fault at all,” he said. “As a team at the start of the sec­ond half we just weren’t good enough.

“I came on at 1-0. If we keep a clean sheet we win the game. But we lose sloppy goals that we didn’t need to lose. It def­i­nitely wasn’t Kieran Tier­ney’s fault.

“He is ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed and will be hard on him­self, but we will all be be­hind him and try to pick him up and make sure he’s ready for the next game.”

McKenna’s sen­ti­ments were echoed by Mul­grew, who put his team in front from the penalty spot in the firsthalf be­fore suf­fer­ing a ham­string strain, who in­sisted ev­ery­one in­volved had to look at their con­tri­bu­tion and make sure there is no re­peat of the dire dis­play.

“Of course it wasn’t all his fault,” he said. “KT is that sort of per­son. He is whole­hearted and is gut­ted ob­vi­ously. He will feel that it’s his re­spon­si­bil­ity and that’s a shame.

“But we are all re­spon­si­ble for that re­sult. We are a col­lec­tive unit and win and lose as a group. We had a cou­ple of chances that we can look back on and say that we could have done bet­ter.

“I had a tight ham­string through the week and had kind of been push­ing through it. It just tight­ened right up so I had no choice but to stay in­side for the sec­ond half. It was a tough watch. The staff and play­ers will all be look­ing back to see how we could have im­proved on that.”

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