IS IT any wonder Brendan Rodgers came dangerously close to parting company with the plot in the immediate aftermath of Hearts’ VAR-inspired 2-0 victory over the champions at Tynecastle yesterday?

The Celtic manager, normally so composed and poised in such high-pressure moments, strived to keep a check on his emotions following two monumental and mindboggling decisions went against his team to deny them the opportunity of going back to the Premiership pinnacle.

Referee Don Robertson and VAR assistant John Beaton, two of the country’s most experienced officials, collaborated to come up with two inconceivable and incomprehensible conclusions to derail the Hoops’ quest for three crucial points.

VAR-CICAL ONE…the Yang Hyun-jun v Alex Cochrane flashpoint.

VAR-CICAL TWO…the Timoki Iwata handball incident.

One of them was to award an absured penalty-kick to the grateful hosts after it was deemed Tomoki Iwata had handled the ball when the Japanese player clearly didn’t even have a clue where the object was after a clash with Alistair Johnston on the edge of the box.

Robertson, with a clear and unobstructed view, saw nothing untoward, but Beaton, no doubt scanning the multi-screens with a verve and vigour, spotted a possible infringement. After a quick touchline review, the award was given and Jorge Grant swept the gift beyond Joe Hart.

Before that deranged combination of thinking, Yang Hyun-jun had been dismissed earlier in the contest for a high boot challenge although it was patently abundant to all there was absolutely no malice as he tried to flick the ball over the head of the inrushing Alex Cochrane.

A yellow card was administered, but Beaton still reckoned the punishment should be moved up a notch and once again Robertson was tasked with a trek over to his touchline monitor for another look.

GUILTY…Yang Hyun-jun makes contact with Hearts’ Alex Cochrane.

NOT GUILTY…Giorgos Giakoumakis gets a boot in the face from Dundee United’s Craig Sibbald.

We all knew what was about to occur as the whistler returned to the pitch, scrapped the earlier card and flashed the red. The flummoxed South Korean stared blankly before heading for the tunnel to run the gauntlet of the morons gleefully waving goodbye from the stands.

Yang would have been even more perplexed if he had been involved in a game between Celtic and Dundee United at Parkhead on the Saturday afternoon of November 5 2022.

Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis was hit smack in the face by the sole of the boot of the challenging Craig Sibbald. Images proved it was a full-on physical engagement.

OUCH…Giorgos Giakoumakis winces as Dundee United’s Craig Sibbald goes in with a high challenge which referee David Dickinson thought was perfectly legitimate.

Referee David Dickinson had a clear view of the coming together, took no action and waved play on. VAR intervened to review the moment as the Hoops frontman lay on the turf. After the mandatory delay, the technicians, led by Nick Walsh, agreed with the whistler and the Tannadice player escaped without even a finger-wagging.

So, there you are, folks. Yang catches an opponent in an obviously accidental incident and sees red.

Giakoumakis gets one smack in the kisser and the opponent walks away without a blemish on his character.

Maybe they’ve changed the rules over the intervening months and forgotten to tell anyone.

Or else it could be something a lot more sinister.





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