JOHN HARTSON insists Celtic had to beat TWO teams at Tynecastle yesterday – Hearts and VAR.
The Hoops striking legend made the call after the champions had to overcome a number of obstacles concerning new technology before gaining a 4-3 victory over the hosts with goals from James Forrest, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Daizen Maeda and Greg Taylor.
It was a remarkable rollercoaster of a performance in the capital which saw Ange Postecoglou’s side double their advantage at the Premiership pinnacle to four after their nearest challengers drew 1-1 with 10-man Livingston at Ibrox later in the day.
Despite it being a good weekend for his old club, Hartson was far from satisfied by a couple of VAR decisions that could have cost the Parkhead men.
The most contentious issue came in first-half stoppage-time when the visitors were denied a blatant penalty-kick after defender Michael Smith clearly handled a flick from Forrest.
Referee Nick Walsh, with a clear view of the incident, astonishingly waved play on before VAR reviewed the flashpoint moment.
Steven McLean, in the new technology control room, agreed with the match offical and no action was required following the briefest of interludes while they looked again at Smith’s illegal block of the Celt’s pass.
The hosts had just been awarded a penalty-kick shortly beforehand following an intervention by VAR after a Cameron Carter-Vickers challenge on Cammy Devlin.
Walsh had originally ignored the tackle from the Hoops captain, but McLean instructed him to check out the pitchside TV monitor and the ref returned to point to the spot for Lawrence Shankland to score from the spot.
A clearly unimpressed Hartson, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “You find ways of winning games. You can’t always be at your scintillating best to win a game and they’ve had to dig in against a real, strong Hearts team.
“Hearts are very difficult to beat here at Tynecastle, notoriously it’s a really tough place to come. I think Ange isn’t in favour of VAR, but it’s here to stay.
“I feel he probably had to beat two teams today. He had to beat Hearts and he had to beat the VAR team because a couple of VAR decisions went against Celtic. You can clearly see his frustration.”