CELTIC return to the scene of the crime when they take on Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday.

It was against the same opponents at the same venue that the champions were introduced to VAR almost a year ago.

There was chaos in the capital as the Hoops got a taste of what was to come for the remainder of the campaign and beyond as bewildering decisions heaped up at a terrifying rate.

The visitors were on the receiving end of the series of contentious decisions as match official Nick Walsh and his Video Assisted Referee Steven McLean, sitting in front of the multi screens in a Glasgow office, drove Ange Postecoglou to distraction on the touchline while his players wore befuddled looks throughout the unfathomable encounter.

It was a day to forget for the Parkhead club as they came face to face with new technology for the first time.


VAR-CICAL…Ange Postecoglou displays his disbelief during an array of baffling decisions against Hearts at Tynecastle a year ago.

The hosts were awarded TWO penalty-kicks while Celtic were denied a stonewaller plus two goals were chalked off in mystifying circumstances.

In the midst of the bedlam and carnage, it was amazing Postecoglou’s men emerged with three points from a dramatic, commotion-laden confrontation on their way to an eleventh title in 12 years.

Greg Taylor was the unlikely matchwinner with the fourth strike in the 76th minute, his first Premiership goal since joining the club from Kilmarnock in September 2019, to add to the earlier efforts from James Forrest, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda.

The first puzzling decision arrived in the 21st minute when Aaron Mooy sent over a free-kick from the right that was met squarely by the head of Anthony Ralston who sent the ball thundering past former team-mate Craig Gordon.

Maeda had been in an offside position when the Australian international sent over the deadball effort, but he was clearly not interfering with play.

Walsh pointed for a phantom free-kick to the home side – presumably for a coming together with Giakoumakis and a defender – and VAR, after having a look, agreed with the referee.

It got worse just before the interval with the visitors leading from a Forrest header. Cammy Devlin and Cameron Carter-Vickers collided as they went for a loose ball in the 18-yard box and the whistler, satisfied the clash was accidental, waved play on.

VAR, however, came into play and, following a delay of a minute or so, the match official was advised by colleague McLean to check the touchline monitor.

No-one of a Celtic persuasion was one bit surprised when Walsh returned to the pitch to point to the penalty spot.

PENALTY? Hearts defender Michael Smith clearly diverts James Forrest’s cross with his left hand, but referee Nick Walsh and VAR assistant Steven McLean saw nothing untoward.

The visitors had a case for a studs-up challenge from Devlin, but that meant little as the spot-kick was awarded in stoppage-time and substitute Lawrence Shankland gleefully accepted the gift and bashed the ball straight down the middle of the goal as Joe Hart took off for his right.

The Parkhead men were still simmering when they were denied a certain spot-kick after Michael Smith had clearly stopped a Forrest cross with an outstretched left arm.

VAR did a quickfire check – all of 28 SECONDS – and, astoundingly, no anticipated penalty-kick was awarded.

Postecoglou threw his hands up in dismay and disbelief. Alas, it didn’t get any better after the turnaround.

The home side took the lead in the 47th minute when Alexandro Bernabei allowed Josh Ginnelly too much time to swing over a cross from the right.

SLIDE IN TIME…Greg Taylor turns the matchwinner past Hearts keeper Craig Gordon with defender Michael Smith looking on.

Shankland was in front of Carter-Vickers at the near post to whip the ball past the static Hart. Offside? VAR had a look and decided the big toe of Bernabei must have played on the Hearts forward.

In the 55th minute, Giakoumakis headed the equaliser and four minutes later Maeda pounced on a rebound from Gordon to restore the Hoops’ advantage.

Perplexingly, Hearts were awarded a second penalty-kick in the 61st minute and, on this occasion, there was no argument after Moritz Jenz, who had looked uncomfortable throughout the afternoon, knocked over Devlin with an awkward challenge.

VAR still checked the incident, but Shankland waited patiently with the ball on the spot as we all knew the inevitable outcome of the decision from McLean and Co.

The striker aimed low to Hart’s right-hand post on this occasion, but the keeper got down swiftly to block the effort. It eventually spun to Ginnelly who knocked it over the line.

He looked clearly offside, but before there was the possibility of the goal being disallowed, VAR awarded a retake because of players encroaching in the box before the original kick.

SMILES BETTER…Greg Taylor has the final say on a day of controversy with his first league goal for Celtic.

Shankland breathed a sigh of relief at a second chance and this time he buried it in the corner as Hart went the wrong way.

In the 66th minute, Postecoglou made a flurry of substitutions with Sead Haksabanovic, Liel Abada and Greg Taylor coming on for Meada, Forrest and Bernabei.

Ten minutes later, Taylor snatched the winner from almost under the crossbar after a cross from Abada had been deflected into his path as he raced in at the far post.

In the fading moments of a rollicking meeting, Haksabanovic sent Abada clear and the Israeli winger raced down on Gordon before slipping the ball under him.

Goal? It was a tight decision. VAR wasn’t even consulted, despite images indicating the Israeli forward was onside. No goal. No surprise.

As first impressions go, it was was one no-one would ever forget on the day VAR came into play in Scottish football on the weekend of October 21/22 2022.

We have all got to hope there is no action replay on Sunday.

The Celtic team that historic day was: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, Bernabei (sub: Taylor 66); Mooy, O’Riley, Hatate (sub: Abildgaard 92); Forrest (sub: Abada 66), Giakoumakis, Maeda (sub: Haksabanovic 66).

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