IN THE midst of all the furore surrounding Celtic’s controversial 2-0 setback against Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday, one significant factor has been overlooked.

Alex Cochrane was the man at the centre of the bewildering sending-off storm that saw winger Yang Hyun-jun dismissed in the 14th minute following an equally-baffling VAR intervention.

No-one mentioned that the same player has some red card history against the champions. In fact, the former Brighton defender was banished TWICE against the Hoops last season.

The defender saw red near the end of the Edinburgh team’s 2-0 loss at Parkhead in August 2022 after attracting two yellow cards from referee Kevin Clancy.

Cochrane was booked for hauling back Josip Juranovic and was then ordered off after a cynical trip on Callum McGregor.

GOING DOWN – AND GOING OFF…Alex Cochrane sends Daizen Maeda crashing to the turf at Tynecastle last season.

The red mist came down against Celtic at Tynecastle nine months later in May when the visitors again triumphed 2-0 to clinch a second successive title during Ange Postecoglou’s all-too-brief reign.

The back-four operator flattened Daizen Maeda in the first-half as the Japanese ace sped into the box. Nick Walsh flashed a yellow card before VAR assistant Willie Collum instructed his colleague to review the incident.

The match official looked again and accepted the defender had denied Maeda a clear goalscoring opportunity and issued a straight red card.

Cochrane had words with Walsh and was then seen shouting at Hoops gaffer Postecoglou on his way up the tunnel.

INFAMOUS LAST WORDS…Alex Cochrane has something to say to Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou after his ordering-off in the Hoops’ 2-0 win at Tynecastle in May last year – the victory that sealed a second successive crown and the club’s eleventh championship in 12 years.

The Englishman was in the spotlight again at the weekend when he clashed with Yang as the Hoops forward tried to flick the ball over his opponent’s head to open up a run into space behind him on the right wing.

Cochrane was the instigator of the coming together as he thrust his head at the ball to clear before his direct rival had the opportunity to run in behind. There was connection with Yang’s boot and the Hearts player went down as though he had been hit by an invisible wrecking ball.

Don Robertson booked Yang and it got even more bizarre when VAR’s John Beaton directed the referee to the trackside monitor to look again at the incident. He returned to scrap the yellow and replace it with a red.

Cochrane got back on his feet, not a scratch to be seen, not a hair out of place and no need for the local A&E to be placed on stand-by.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…Don Robertson flashes the red card at Yang Hyun-jun as Hearts’ Kye Rowles demonstrates what he thinks of the referee and VAR’s decision.

After two quickfire fouls in the second-half, the defender was eventually booked as he nudged closer to a red-card hat-trick against the Hoops.

Maybe, just maybe, Cochrane got some retribution of his own against the Parkhead side – with a little help, of course, from Beaton in front of the multi screens miles away and dithering Robertson on the pitch.

Speaking about the antics of the Hearts player, a clearly unimpressed Brendan Rodgers said: “Obviously, he makes a meal of it.”

Difficult to argue with that astute observation from the Celtic manager.



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