A year ago, after a late 10-man winner against Dundee United, we gave ourselves a platform to go top of the table next time out, a status that was earned and not relinquished. Yesterday’s win against Dundee United was just as ominous for those hoping to get the better of Celtic.
15 games remain in the title race, Celtic have 7 away from home and 8 at home, where we have been imperious all season. Bookies are offering a 4% return on money placed on Celtic, although the period required is less than a year, that is below interest rates.
It took until early in the second half, and we benefited from a goalkeeper error, but the incessant pressure from Celtic was always going to find whatever vulnerabilities United had. Aaron Mooy’s speculative cross looked harmless until Jota seemed to defy the laws of physics to bend the ball over the line. How many players get to see a goal they scored when looking back onto the pitch?
Despite having a pretty good view of the action, referee Don Robertson failed to spot Kieran Freeman raise his hand to block the ball inside the United penalty area. Freeman quickly hid his arm behind his back, so perhaps Robertson believed the player only had the one upper limb.
VAR corrected this aberration. Despite the clear hand-to-ball action, the referee declined to caution the already-booked player. Your thoughts may return to the caution Alexandro Bernabei received when the ball struck his arm, behind him, mid-jump, and wonder why the gaping inconsistencies persist in Scottish football.
Do not trouble yourself with that. Also, set aside any thoughts you may have that the punch on the head Kyogo received was worthy of a penalty. Instead, consider the new rule. If you stand on the ball and fall, you receive a foul*.
Liam Smith stood on the ball, tumbled, obstructed Reo Hatate and, according to Don Robertson, earned a foul. It was an egregious interpretation of the rules which highlights the scale of the challenge we face.
*may only apply when playing against Celtic.