MATT O’RILEY insists Celtic have had “some strange decisions” given against them in recent times.
The stylish midfielder was the latest victim of a dodgy call when ropey ref David Munro awarded a penalty-kick shortly after the interval against Ross County with the game goalless yesterday.
It was a diabolical decision from a match official who had bewildered everyone in the stadium with a sequence of judgements from early in the encounter.
O’Riley was penalised after an attempted clearance rebounded off County’s Callum Johnson and the whistler unhesitatingly pointed to the spot.
CONTROVERSIAL…Matt O’Riley looks surprised as the ball rebounds from Ross County’s Callum Johnson onto his elbow. Alexandro Bernabei gets a good view.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA…split-seconds after the ball hits Matt O’Riley referee David Munro is about to award a penalty-kick – but his standside assistant, with a good view of the incident, keeps his flag by his side.
Mystifyingly, VAR failed to overturn the call and the Highlanders’ David Cancola gleefully accepted the gift to tuck the ball behind Joe Hart who has now faced FOUR penalty-kicks in the past four games. Unfortunately, the experienced keeper has gone the wrong way for all four!
Ange Postecoglou’s men responded in the manner of champions and David Turnbull claimed a classy equaliser while Sead Haksabanovic netted the winner with the sort of sublime finish of which his fellow-Swede Henrik Larsson would have been proud during his Hoops heyday.
A determined O’Riley said: “We have had some strange decisions go against us at the moment, but they still can’t stop us, so that is alright.
SPOT OF BOTHER…Cameron Carter-Vickers queries referee David Munro’s inexplicable penalty-kick decision.
“I do not know what I really could have done. My hands are by my side. I do not know if the ball hit my hip then my arm or my arm first, but I do NOT know where else I could have put my arm.”
It was a similar situation last week against Dundee United when ref David Dickinson was instructed by VAR official Nick Walsh to review an incident where a header from Steven Fletcher struck Alexandro Bernabei’s elbow.
Not one Tannadice player claimed for a spot-kick, but Walsh, tucked away in a Glasgow office, spotted the infringement. This, of course, is the same Walsh who was only yards away from Michael Smith when the Hearts defender handled an effort from James Forrest in Celtic’s 4-3 win at Tynecasle during their introduction to the new system.
Ludicrously, assistant Steven McLean, looking at the handball in his multi-screened studio, took a mere 28 seconds to decide his colleague was correct in his decision and the home side escaped any punishment.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Matt O’Riley congratulates David Turnbull after his classy equaliser.
Celtic have not been cut such slack. Even in Europe, the referee awarded Real Madrid two spot-kicks inside 19 minutes in the Bernabeu for handballs against Moritz Jenz and then O’Riley. The Spaniards gratefully accepted both moments of largesse from the French official.
The main thing, though, is that Celtic sit on top of the Premiership this morning nine points clear of their nearest challengers, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox side who drew 1-1 at St Mirren with the aid of a VAR-assisted penalty-kick after Kevin Clancy had originally booked Ryan Kent for diving.
Reflecting on the performance against Malky Mackay’s side, O’Riley, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I thought we played okay, but it could have been better, probably could have taken a few more chances.
“It was one of those days when the ball was not going in, but we came from behind and have shown we can do that across the season so far.
THE LEVELLER…David Turnbull slots away Reo Hatate’s low left-wing cross.
THE WINNER…Sead Haksabanovic rolls the ball wide of the despairing Ross Laidlaw.
“I am really happy we have gone into the break winning all our games. We are in a good place.
“The St Mirren loss was a wake-up call and since then we have been really ruthless in terms of our approach. We’ll try to continue that.”
Celtic now face Sydney FC on Thursday with an 8.45am kick-off UK time and Frank Lampard’s Everton three days later at 3.45am in the inaugural Sydney Super Cup.
They return to Premiership action against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on December 17 with a 12.30pm start and the champions’ next game in the east end of Glasgow is against Livingston four days before Christmas.
Of course, Christmas has come early for most of Celtic’s opponents in recent weeks.