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RODGERS SLAMS COUNTY ‘CHEAT’ SCHALK, BROWN FINE FOR HAMPDEN

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BRENDAN RODGERS criticised Ross County’s Alex Schalk after the striker took an obvious dive to win a ridiculous penalty-kick in Celtic’s 2-2 draw in Dingwall.

The champions were coasting to another three points before referee Don Robertson incredibly pointed to the spot with two minutes left after the Dutchman went down theatrically.

Replays showed there was no contact between Schalk and Hoops defender Erik Sviatchenko.

And a seething Rodgers described the action of the County player as “blatant cheating”.

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The Hoops boss said: “Erik is nowhere near touching him and the referee’s actually in a good position, the linesman’s in a good position, so to give a penalty for that was absolutely incredible.

“Players will do that, it’s always happened, and, in particular, over the last number of years you’ll see it and if you’re Jim [McIntyre] you’re delighted you get it.

“But that is blatant cheating.

“And it’s an awful, awful decision to cost us the full three points.”

Rodgers added: “We were ‘re fine, we’ve seen the game through, so for the referee to cost us the three points and then miss some crucial decisions was very, very disappointing.

“We have to take it and move on to the next game.”

County gaffer McIntyre said he understood the frustrations of his opposite number after the decision.

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He said: “It’s not a penalty-kick. Alex is expecting contact and he’s on his way down when the defender pulls out. I can fully understand Celtic’s anger and disappointment.

Moments after Liam Boyce slotted home the penalty, Hoops skipper Scott Brown was red-carded for a rash challenge on the Northern Irish frontman.

The sending off does NOT mean the captain will miss the Scottish Cup semi-final clash at Hampden a week today against Sevco Rangers. Celtic will appeal the decision and do to the Easter holidays, this will not be heard until after the Semi-final, thus freeing Brown for the game.

Rodgers believes Brown’s disappointment with Robertson’s decision probably led to the midfielder seeing red.

He added: “I think Scott was a bit late in the tackle. I think he was probably a bit frustrated with the referee, for a number of incidents, not just the penalty, that he missed on him that were pretty clear.

“Scott’s gone in, he’s challenged for the ball and he’s been late.

“But the talking point of the game is the penalty.

“It’s absolutely awful to take when it costs you another win.”

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