ST JOHNSTONE striker Steven MacLean admitted he thought he was offside when he scored his side’s goal in the 1-1 draw against Celtic at Parkhead yesterday.
And the Perth frontman also insisted he “never touched” Kieran Tierney in the second-half incident that saw the Hoops defender collapse to the pitch.
Referee Willie Collum, whose decision-making defied belief for most of the tense afternoon, saw the incident and merely booked MacLean.
To most, it looked a certain red card that would have left the visitors with 10 men as Brendan Rodgers’ side gained momentum.
MacLean was played onside by Tony Ralston, but looked well offside when he cashed in on an awful clearance from Craig Gordon six minutes before the interval.
He said: “I thought I was offside, I’ll be honest. I was just taking the mick. I put in and turned round and they were saying ‘He’s given it’.
“I looked across and thought: ‘The linesman must be steaming’. I said to Willie (Collum): ‘You’ll book me if I kick it in the net’, so I put it in thinking that, but he gave it. Just as well I put it in.”
Gordon compounded his earlier error by not playing to the whistle and was motionless when MacLean knocked the ball into the empty net.
The hitman then picked up a yellow card in the 72nd minute when he appeared to punch Tierney.
He claimed: “We were just having a bit of crack, it was a coming together and I said to him: ‘I am old enough to be your old man’. I was 35 on Wednesday.
“We just brushed together. He never said there was contact and I didn’t think there was. If anything, it was minimal.
“He’s a great player and he was running away from me. I didn’t even think it was a foul, I never touched him.”
MacLean added that Celtic pulverised his team in the latter stages of the second-half as they stretched their unbeaten domestic run to 53 games.
Callum McGregor rifled in the equaliser, Scotty Sinclair rattled the crossbar with an angled drive and Mikael Lustig thundered a header against the woodwork.
Keeper Alan Mannus pulled off a string of excellent saves, including one at the death from a header by Jonny Hayes.
MacLean said: “It was the longest half in the world. As the game goes on, you think you are going to hang on. We spoke about being the team to end their invincible record.
“We were looking good, our shape was good, we got the goal and I had another chance I probably should have scored.
“They threw absolutely everything at us. Brendan changed his shape and it was a curveball. It was green arrows coming at us everywhere.
“We did well to hang on, but once they got the goal we never folded. It shows the character we have. The back four got blocks on everything.”