RYAN CHRISTIE has revealed the Celtic players were “treading on eggshells” with card-happy Spanish ref Jose Sanchez making a series of bewildering calls during the 1-1 draw with Rennes last night.
The opening Europa League group stage encounter in Brittany ended in uproar when the baffling match official sent off Vakoun Issouf Bayo following two yellow card in the fading moments.
The Ivorian frontman was banished after the whistler originally waved play-on after some theatrics from keeper Edouard Mendy.
Bayo’s mystifying red card set up an anxious and nervy finale for the Hoops.
Sanchez also booked Christie, the Hoops scorer with an expertly-taken penalty-kick, when it looked as though his French opponent had banged into him.
The Spaniard also looked the other way following a foul on Christie that looked a stonewall spot-kick before the inevitable award was made after James Forrest had been flattened by Damien Da Silva.
Christie, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “There was a sense of frustration. I don’t envy the referee’s job. especially in that atmosphere where the fans are shouting for every decision.
“The likes of Jonny Hayes’ tackle, there was nothing wrong with it, Broony got booked for a strong challenge in the first-half.
“It felt like we were treading on eggshells going in to the last 10 minutes because any tackle he was going to reach for the red card.
“I’m gutted for Bayo. He came on to try to make an impact and hold the ball up for us.
“The first one was a booking, but the second one was beyond soft.
“It happened and the referee waved it away and says it’s nothing. Then he goes to the goalkeeper and decides to show him a second yellow and send him off – but as soon as Bayo’s down the tunnel the goalkeeper’s up taking the free-kick straight away with nothing wrong with him.
“It’s just Bayo’s game. He’s not reckless, but he’s physical and dominant.
“It’s easy for refs, I wouldnt’ say to get conned, but to be swayed a little bit by the opposition and the fans.”
Christie insisted the whistler got it wrong with his decision not to award an earlier penalty-kick.
He said: “It was a strange one. If it’s not a penalty then he had to book me, but he awarded a throw-in.
“It didn’t make much sense. I was even questioning myself, but when I saw it again in the dressing room it was a definite penalty.
“We had a lot to deal with out there. It was frustration at half-time being behind as it wasn’t like we’d been dominated or cut open.
“We were dealing with them, but we were maybe not getting the final pass away. We still felt confident going in to the second-half.
“It was nice to get the penalty after what happened and we showed a lot of character.
“The new boys like Chris Julien, Hatem Abd Elhamed and Boli Bolingoli did really well.”
Christie added: “Overall, we’re very happy, we limited them to very few chances and created a few of our own.
“We knew it was going to be difficult, but it’s always going to be difficult away from home in France.
“But to get a point is fine. If we couldn’t get a win it was important not to lose it in the end.
“We wanted to come here and get something, but we knew with how well they’d started domestically that it was going to be difficult to get something.
“At half-time, we were a bit frustrated that after we’d sussed them out we hadn’t been able to hurt them. But we’re happy with a point in the end.
“It was a relief when we got James’ one to even it up. It was maybe what it was going to take to break the deadlock for us and it was a relief to come away with a point.”