ANDY HALLIDAY’S speed was clocked at 18-miles-per-hour when he clattered into Patrick Roberts in a moment of controversy at Hampden.
Only three minutes had gone when the Ibrox side’s midfield thug launched into a reckless tackle on the Celtic winger.
The on-loan Manchester City youngster was sent spinning and referee Willie Collum was content with a booking for Halliday.
But his challenge was labelled as “mental” by BBC pundit Michael Stewart, the former Hibs and Hearts star.
Ex-Scotland international striker Steven Thompson insisted it was “most definitely an ordering-off”.
And Aberdeen legend Willie Miller, a summariser for the Beeb at Scottish Cup semi-final, called it “vicious”.
Talking about the flashpoint incident, Stewart said: “We actually looked at this in the graphics and he jumps into the tackle at 18-miles-per-hour.
“It was mental.”
Stewart also believed Gers’ teenage left-back Myles Beerman could have seen red, too, after two quickfire fouls on dangerman Roberts.
He added: “Rangers (sic) were fortunate to have 11 men on the park.”
Asked if it should have been an instant dismissal, much-travelled frontman Thompson replied: “Absolutely. I can only presume because it was so early in the game, that’s why Willie Collum didn’t give him a red card.
“Look at the speed at which he goes into this tackle.
“We talked about Scott Brown last weekend. If Scott Brown’s challenge was a sending-off, this is worse.
“It is most definitely an ordering-off.”
Ex-Pittodrie skipper and manager Miller added: “What a challenge from Andy Halliday!
“It surely is controversial. I think he was very fortunate, to be perfectly honest, that it’s only a yellow card.
“Maybe because it’s so early in the game, but that was a vicious challenge and nowhere near the ball.”
Halliday was one of five players booked in the Hoops’ 2-0 win.
Team-mates Beerman and James Tavernier and Parkhead duo Jozo Simunovic and Tom Rogic also received yellow cards.
Had Halliday been sent off he would have missed Saturday’s meeting between the sides at Ibrox.
Celtic will be hoping to maintain their 100% win rate in Govan having won on their only previous visit to play the five year old club last Hogmanay when Moussa Dembele and Scotty Sinclair scored the goals.