KYOGO FURUHASHI was at the centre of a Hampden mystery as Celtic overcame stubborn St Johnstone 1-0 in the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final yesterday.
The Japanese international striker was bundled to the ground by cumbersome Jamie McCart in the 66th minute. A clear foul and referee Nick Walsh was swift to award the inevitable free-kick.
For no known reason, Craig Bryson decided to get involved while Kyogo was on the deck. The defender’s rash attentions warranted a yellow card to join that of the original culprit. However, the match official wasn’t wasn’t finished with the card flashing – the Hoops frontman was also on the receiving end of another bewildering decision from the whistler.
GROUNDED…Kyogo Furuhashi hits the deck after the foul by Jamie McCart as referee Nick Walsh and Perth midfielder Murray Davidson get a close-up view.
BOOKED…Kyogo Furuhashi is mystified as Nick Walsh flashes a yellow card and Craig Bryson waits his turn in receiving the same punishment.
Kyogo looked as puzzled as the watching thousands on TV and millions worldwide on the satellite station.
His only ‘sin’ was to leap to his feet to defend himself against a player who had intervened while he was defenceless on the ground.
Of course, this particular ref has previous with Celtic after booking Cameron Carter-Vickers in a similar flashpoint incident against the Saints last month when he was on the receiving end while on the floor and Chris Kane had a couple of kicks at the ball. The Perth player also clearly pushed the on-loan Spurs central defender in the face.
To most onlookers it was a straight red card offence, but Walsh was satisfied with a yellow for Kane AND Carter-Vickers.
BEWILDERED…Kyogo Furuhashi looks mystified as he walks away from the flashpoint incident.
Bewilderingly, Nir Bitton was the first to go into the book yesterday in a nothing challenge on Kane in the 14th minute. It was the Israeli midfielder’s first tackle and brought instant retribution.
The semi-final went into seven minutes of stoppage time, so it meant Bitton had to be extra careful not to put a foot wrong in the remaining 83 minutes with a red card a distinct possibility.
Kyogo and Bitton were two of three Hoops players booked with David Turnbull joining them for pulling Ali Crawford’s shirt.
Considering stats show that only eight fouls were conceded by the Parkhead side, that is a mindboggling total of yellow cards.
HAPPY DAZE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates with matchwinner James Forrest.
Bitton was the only booking of the opening 45 minutes and it looked as though Bryson was a certainty to join him in the 48th minute after he cynically tripped the versatile Celt.
Astoundingly, Walsh merely administered a finger-wagging and let him off.
Six Perth players were yellow-carded – McCart, Bryson, Murray Davidson, Shaun Rooney, Liam Craig and Crawford.
All of the bookings were administered after the 66-minute flare-up following the blatant foul on Kyogo.
McDiarmid Park boss Callum Davidson was also cautioned for speaking out of turn when he, too, joined the many who were befuddled by the decision-maker.
Celtic chairman Ian Bankier had already declared a “deep concern” over the referee, as CQN reported during the week.
It appears the club’s concerns were not unfounded.
Kyogo would undoubtedly agree.