AM I alone in believing Joe Hart was extremely unlucky to be removed from proceedings at Livingston last weekend?
The 36-year-old keeper experienced a red card being flashed under his snoot for the first time in a distinguished career which kicked off two decades ago with Shrewsbury Town and had been virtually blemish-free until trigger-happy John Beaton entered the frame in West Lothian.
Hart’s case wasn’t helped, of course, by so-called experts throwing in their tuppenceworth, including former Celts who should know a lot better.
“It’s reckless from Joe,” observed Neil Lennon. “He’s fully committed, but you just can’t make a challenge like that. That could have been for reckless endangerment of a player, as well.
“It is a clear red card. Sangare gets a touch and Joe takes him clean out.”
Really? Our legendary manager might want to hit the rewind button and have another look at the 29th-minute flashpoint incident.
ONSIDE…the VAR line proves Mo Sangare is played on by Gustaf Lagerbielke as the ball is pitched forward.
STUDS UP…Sangare’s right foot is dangerously high even before Joe Hart comes on the scene.
COLLISION…Hart and Sangare have a coming together just outside the box with referee John Beaton (extreme right) looking on.
Here’s a hypothetical question. What would have been the outcome if the collision had taken place another 10 yards outside the penalty box and it had been a defender going for the ball with Livi striker Mo Sangare?
Take a look at the images. The home player’s foot is up with studs showing before Hart arrives on the scene. No argument; that’s dangerous play and an automatic red card for the attacker.
If anyone is wiped out, it’s Hart.
Yes, it looks an awkward challenge from the netminder. Upon first viewing, it doesn’t appear too clever. Beaton is looking straight at the incident from behind. Let’s be generous and cut the match official some slack. He may have been forgiven for believing Hart had been the instigator in the shuddering impact. Pictures make a compelling argument to state that is not the case; quite the reverse, in fact.
On this occasion, the referee needs guidance from his assistant on the touchline. None was forthcoming. How about VAR and their multi-screens in the Glasgow office? Nope, nothing from that angle, either. Steven McLean could have viewed the moment from a variety of angles, but saw nothing untoward.
HIGH KICKING…Mo Sangare’s studs are showing as Joe Hart attempts to clear.
PAIN GAME…Joe Hart winces as he hits the surface after the clash with Mo Sangare.
My understanding behind the decision was that the Livi forward had been denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. Liam Scales might have had something to say about that as he hared back to take up a recovery position.
We can’t argue with the onside decision. VAR images clearly show a part of Gustaf Lagerbielke’s anatomy playing Sangare on. Fine margins, my friends.
So, my sympathy goes to the Celtic keeper and, while we’re at it, may I ask another question of Mr Beaton?
Was Sangare’s opportunity more of a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity than that of Reo Hatate when he was clattered by Luiyi de Lucas and Celtic were awarded a 13th-minute penalty-kick?
The home defender was booked for his actions, but let’s view that episode again. The Japanese midfielder is running clear onto Greg Taylor’s astute pass without a Livi player between him and the keeper.
FOUL CHALLENGE…Livi defender Luiyi de Lucas charges into Reo Hatate who has a clear run on goal.
PENALTY-KICK…Hatate is sent sprawling and De Lucas is about to be shown the yellow card by Beaton.
A home player would have required the use of a Harley Davidson to catch the Celt. Red card? Nope, yellow sufficed on this occasion. It’s all very bizarre, is it not?
I’m not an advocate of teams being reduced to 10 men – or fewer as was the case in Rotterdam 11 days ago – but I am of the belief punishment should fit the crime.
Celtic had three players – Callum McGregor, David Turnbull and Daizen Maeda – dismissed in the entirety of last season.
Beaton was the man with the whistle who banished the captain in a 2-1 win over Motherwell at Parkhead. Hatate played a blind pass to the midfielder, but, unfortunately, his judgement was way off and the ball fell into the tracks of Ross Tierney.
There was a coming-together, down went the visiting player and out came the red card pronto from the match official. It was unclear if McGregor was given the ultimate punishment for denying his opponent a clear goalscoring opportunity, but Tierney, not a noted marksman with four strikes in 38 appearances last term, still had a lot of work to do if he had got free of the skipper.
HOLD ON…Callum McGregor and Motherwell’s Ross Tierney clash with Stephen Welsh racing back to cover while keeper Joe Hart scampers back into the box.
DOWN AND OUT…Tierney hits the ground and McGregor is about to see red.
ENDGAME…John Beaton flashes the red card at McGregor in another quickfire piece of decision-making.
Stephen Welsh, admittedly not gifted with exceptional pace, was coming across to cover in the critical situation.
Once again, the Celt was expelled with indecent haste and no argument was forthcoming. I’m fairly certain other teams would have hollered long and loud about the injustice of the situation and demanded inquests. I’ll leave it to your good self to identify which clubs may have indulged in such wastes of time.
After Motherwell today, it’s Lazio next up under the lights in the east end of Glasgow on Wednesday.
Good news for Joe Hart and Callum McGregor. There will be no sign of John Beaton on this occasion.