IT’S not easy to keep Giorgos Giakoumakis out of the headlines these days.
The Greek striker is either being lined up for a medical ahead of signing for a cash-rich J-League side or he’s knocking in the clinching goal in a domestic Cup semi-final.
And, in between, Giakoumakis seems to have got himself involved in a controversial penalty-kick call that had Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes apoplectic all weekend and probably today and the rest of the week. Maybe the rest of the month. Who knows?
HEADLINE NEWS…Giorgos Giakoumakis was in the spotlight at both ends of the pitch in Celtic’s Hampden victory at the weekend.
The Rugby Park gaffer was incensed referee Willie Collum did not award his side a spot-kick after Giakoumakis and his player Joe Wright had a coming-together as they went for a long throw-in from Ash Taylor.
The clock was ticking down on the regulation 90 minutes at this stage with the game balanced on a knife-edge and the holders leading 1-0 through Daizen Maeda’s first-half goal.
McInnes’ heightened state of agitato was understandable when the two burly players hit the deck. He demanded a spot-kick. Match official Collum disagreed as did Greg Aitken in the VAR systems room.
Like John Beaton in the Connor Goldson handball flashpoint in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox on January 2, the whistler was not instructed to have another look at the incident.
NO ARGUMENT…Reo Hatate is offside as Josip Juranovic has a shot at the Kilmarnock goal.
DEFLECTION…Reo Hatate prepares to pounce as the ball diverts off Ash Taylor in his direction.
BY THE LEFT…Reo Hatate flicks the ball towards the Killie goal with the defence calling for offside.
PUZZLED…Reo Hatate wonders if his goal will be wiped out.
NO GOAL…VAR makes its decision and Reo Hatate’s effort is disallowed.
McInnes raged: “What’s the point in me speaking to the referee? Seriously, what is the point? VAR should be speaking to the referee. That’s the conversation that needs to be had – not me after the event.
“Celtic are through to a Final. Pre-VAR, post-VAR, that’s a penalty kick.”
Tellingly, the Ayrshire club’s team boss added: “Giakoumakis just gets a bit excitable. He’s clumsy, it’s a striker’s challenge. He stumbles into the back of Joe Wright, with two arms round his waist. It’s a penalty kick.”
Clumsy? Striker’s challenge? Does that mean it was accidental? Awkward contact between two combatants in a physical sport without malice?
That being the case, it’s not a penalty-kick. McInnes might also want to review the incident when Reo Hatate throught he had netted a second for the holders in the 50th minute.
PICK IT OUT…Giorgos Giakoumakis seals Celtic’s 2-0 victory as he goes to celebrate along with David Turnbull who has just seen his shot parried into the Greek striker’s path by keeper Sam Walker.
The Japanese midfielder was in an offside position as Aaron Mooy broke on the right and Josip Juranovic had a shot at goal. There was a bit of penalty-box ping-pong before the ball struck defender Taylor and deflected to the unmarked Hatate.
Swiftly, he hooked an effort past the exposed keeper Sam Walker and raced away in delight, thinking he had doubled his team’s advantage so early in the second-half.
It was then we noticed the standside assistant had raised his flag. The official was obviously reacting to Hatate’s location during the build-up prior to the ball coming off the Killie defender.
VAR came into play to decide whether it was an intentional movement from Taylor to play the ball. Had it been so, then rules state the goal should have stood. But since it was deemed unintentional, the flag was raised and VAR concurred that it was the correct call.
So, if the match officials, on and off the field, believed that Taylor’s deflection was unintentional and it was right to rule out Hatate’s strike, it doesn’t seem much of a stretch to reckon they thought exactly the same when “clumsy” Giakoumakis made his “striker’s challenge” on Wright.
It was accidental. Not every physical contact in the box is a penalty-kick. If it was, there would be players falling over at every corner-kick and free-kick.
And long throw-ins, too.