ALLY McCOIST insisted the decision to award a penalty-kick to Dundee United against Celtic at the weekend was the latest “absolutely scandalous” VAR decision.
The Hoops were already leading 1-0 through a Sead Halsabanovic strike when a ninth-minute header from Steven Fletcher hit the elbow of Alexandro Bernabei who was looking away after challenging for the high ball.
Not a solitary visiting player made a claim for a spot-kick, but Nick Walsh, who had a complete disaster when new technology was introduced two weeks ago and, during a sequence of bewildering decisions between the man with the whistle and Steven McLean in the VAR control room, they came close to ruining the match between Hearts and the champions at Tynecastle.
FLASHPOINT…Steven Fletcher’s header strikes Alexandro Bernabei’s right elbow.
Ange Postecoglou’s men won 4-3, but not after some baffling judgements by both officials, one being the obvious handball by home defender Michael Smith when he blatantly used his left hand to stop a cross from James Forrest.
At Parkhead on Saturday, Walsh instructed referee David Dickinson to check his touchline monitor to review the situation and, ridiculously, the whistler returned to the field, pointed to the spot, booked the befuddled Argentiian left-back and Fletcher gleefully thumped the gift past Joe Hart.
Postecoglou made his thoughts known after his side’s dramatic late 4-2 victory, as CQN reported, and he was backed up by McCoist, the former Ibrox player and manager, plus St Johnstone gaffer Callum Davidson, speaking before his side’s 2-1 win over Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s strugglers, told Sky Sports: “It definitely was not a penalty.”
Bizarrely, Kris Boyd, another former Govan striker, insisted it was the correct decision and Bernabei had done Hart a favour by preventing a certain goal.
McCoist was forced to interject to “bring a bit of sanity” to the discussions.
Boyd said: “It did Joe Hart a favour, it gave him an opportunity to save because it was going into the back of the net. All day long, he [Bernabei] saved it, he saved it. It was going into the back of the net.”
McCoist interrupted to say: “Can I bring a bit of sanity into this? If we’re given penalties for that then the game is gone.
“Some of the decisions we’ve seen for handballs, north and south of the border, are absolutely scandalous.”
THE LONG WAIT…Ange Postecoglou during the delay before the inevitable VAR-assisted penalty-kick award to Dundee United.
Perth gaffer Davidson joined the panel – Andy Walker and James McFadden were also sharing media punditry at McDiarmid Park – before the kick-off to his side’s victory that left Postecoglou’s title winners seven points clear at the top of the Premiership after 13 games.
Asked by Sky Sports for his views on VAR, the Saints boss replied: “It definitely was NOT a penalty at Parkhead yesterday anyway, I will tell you that.
“The penalty rules are always the ones that I have said have got to change. There are far too many penalty decisions given for soft handballs.”
Ironically, the decision to give United their nonsensical penalty-kick was the THIRD the Hoops had conceded in back-to-back games following the decisions by the French referee to award two spot-kicks for handballs against Moritz Jenz and Matt O’Riley in the first 19 minutes of the 5-1 loss to Real Madrid last midweek.