THERE were sad echoes of the past when Rennes keeper Edouard Mendy’s lamentable theatrics tarnished a fine Celtic European performance.
The shotstopper indulged in some pathetic and obvious play-acting which resulted in Vakoun Issouf Bayo being banished by blundering Spanish referee Jose Sanchez during the 1-1 Europa League draw in France.
The match official had earlier booked the striker, who had come as an 84th-minute substitute for Odsonne Edouard, for a challenge on skipper Damien Da Silva that saw the defender carried off.
But worse was to follow for the Ivorian frontman when Mendy fumbled a long-range shot from Olivier Ntcham and the Celt went for the loose ball, as he was perfectly entitled to do, as it briefly spilled free.
The goalie managed to retrieve the situation and Bayo clearly hurdled his prone figure.
However, Mendy decided to remain on the ground while the match official waved play on. Incredibly, instead of stopping the game and waving on the medics, the Spaniard went to see the extent of ‘damage’ for himself.
He then raced back to flash a second yellow and an amazed Bayo, with a look of utter bewilderment, trudged head down to the dressing room.
No-one was in the least bit surprised when Mendy, defying medical science, got to his feet moments later to take the free-kick.
OOPS…keeper Edouard Mendy fumbles Olivier Ntcham’s shot as Vakoun Issouf Bayo prepares to race in.
UP AND OVER…Bayo hurdles Mendy as referee Jose Sanchez gets an uninterrupted view of the incident and decides to play on.
THEATRICS…Mendy remains grounded and holds his head.
INSPECTION…the Spanish ref has a look for himself as Mendy remains motionless.
IT’S A MIRACLE…Mendy is back on his feet moments after Bayo’s red card and prepares to take a free-kick.
Neil Lennon, as reported in CQN earlier today, said: “It looks to me like the referee was waving play on. I don’t know if he looked back at the goalkeeper as he was holding his head. There was no contact with his face at all. If anything, it was minimal across his midriff.
“The referee changed his mind. Bayo can feel very hard done by by that decision.
“We pride ourselves on our team discipline. Yes, we lost a player to a red card, but we feel harshly done by.”
SEEING RED…blundering Sanchez banishes Bayo.
DISBELIEF…Bayo cannot disguise his look of incredulity.
Back in October 3 2007, a late goal from Scott McDonald gave Gordon Strachan’s side a well-deserved 2-1 triumph over the reigning European champions AC Milan at Parkhead.
However, the achievement was marred by the crazy antics of the Italian club’s Brazilian goalie Dida.
The 34-year-old international dramatically collapsed to the ground after being merely touched on the side of the face by a celebrating fan who was later banned for life by Celtic, who were fined £25,000 for their part in the incident.
Dida ran after the offender before toppling over as though he had been hit by an invisible juggernaut.
He was given treatment as he lay on the turf and was then stretchered off in bizarre circumstances. Onlookers berated the player for overacting.
PLAYFUL SLAP – OR KNOCK-OUT PUNCH…Celtic fan confronts AC Milan keeper Dida as he celebrates Scott McDonald’s winner.
IT’S A KNOCK-OUT…Dida lies on the ground after the incident.
UEFA Control and Disciplinary bosses agreed with them and took a dim view of the keeper’s theatrics, charging him with a lack of sportsmanship.
Dida was banned for two Champions League games for feigning injury. Remarkably, it was reduced to one match after an appeal by the Italian giants.
Rob Faulkner, spokesman for Europe’s ruling body, said at the time: “It involved the fan, we don’t condone that, hence, the fine for Celtic.
“But at the same time it was fairly clear that what happened after Dida had set off, fallen to the ground and the antics after that were a little bit out of keeping with the incident.
“I think that’s why he has come out with a two-game ban.”
Australian Zeljko Kalac replaced the ‘stricken’ Dida for the fading moments of the tie which had seen Stephen McManus give the Hoops the lead which was nullified by Kaka’s penalty-kick.
Now we await a possible judgement from UEFA on the obvious and pitiful play-acting of Mendy.
There is a precedent for the Senegalese international No.1 to be suspended.
They might also want to have a look at referee Jose Sanchez’s overall handling of a game that rarely threatened to get out of hand.