Celtic extend perfect start while refs trial new in-head VAR system — roundup

Celtic came from behind against a stuff Kilmarnock, superbly marshalled by Greg Aitken, to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.

Aitken was a thorn in the side of the Hoops all day, constantly making interceptions, breaking up play, using all his nous to run down the clock and generally making a nuisance of himself.

As the referee, however, Neil Lennon would have preferred it if Aitken had taken less of a direct role in proceedings.

Celtic, off the back of Thursday’s fine performance in France featuring another terrible ref, controlled the match and it seemed only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken. James Forrest was running riot and the only surprise was, when it did happen, it was at the other end.

With 33 minutes done, an isolated Brophy, with three Celtic players in close proximity, managed to get a shot off from the edge of the box that, with the aid of a deflection, flew by Fraser Forster to stun Parkhead.

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Celtic levelled just before half time as Edouard got on the end of a James Forrest cross to bullet a downward header home.

The Frenchman doubled his tally for the day not long after the break. A superb move saw Edouard race onto Bauer’s incisive through ball and finish from a tight angle. When Christie pounced on a rebound to fire home from his 10th of the season from close range in the 57th minute, it seemed to be a question of how many.

There would be no more scoring, however, no thanks to referee Aitken. The whistle, who had booked Christie for diving in the first half and missed what looked like a blatant handball from a Forrest shot, gifted Kilmarnock a penalty after channelling his inner VAR after Brown looked to have won the ball.

With Forster in goals, you always feel there’s a chance at spot kicks and he pulled off another brilliant save to foil Killie. Aitken wasn’t finished though as he raced to book Neil Lennon on the touchline after the zen Irishman had words with fourth official Bobby Madden.

Earlier, at Perth, Steven Gerrard’s were back in action after surviving a couple on international incidents during the week. Eros Grezda, playing for the Ibrox side’s colts, had spat on a Ballymena United player.

What was interesting about this story is that it was presented in such a way as to make Rangers look good. No lurid headlines of ‘spitting shame’, only that the club was praised because an embarrassed Greg Docherty had gone into Ballymena’s dressing room afterwards and apologised.

Alfredo Morelos was also at the centre of a worrying situation when one of his efforts against Feyenoord was shot down by Iran as it sailed towards Tehran. Gerrard’s special envoy Docherty flew to the Middle East to calm tensions.

The Colombian did find the net against bottom of the league St Johnstone, proving once again his flat-track bully credentials. It’s the kind of form that had made up clubs bidding millions and offering him £200k a week for his services

Having kicked off earlier than Celtic, the Ibrox side were a couple of goals to the good at one point, while Celtic trailed to Killie. A wee ripple of excitement must have worked its way around their fans at the prospect of closing the gap.

It’s the hope that kills you, as they say. That and not paying your taxes.

Altogether now… What becomes of the broken-hearted?
Haven’t won a trophy since the day you started.

That’s obviously not fair, they did win the Petrofac Cup (lest we forget, once your name is on it, you can’t get it off).

The referee for their game, Andrew Dallas, was also trialling the SFA’s new VAR in-head system. With the game delicately poised at 2-0, a St Johnstone effort looked to have crossed the line. He replayed the incident several times from various angles in his head before giving Rangers the benefit of the doubt. TV replays showed he called that one right.

In Edinburgh, Craig Levein had been given the dreaded vote of confidence. Normally, that signals bad news, but as it was Levein as director of football who gave Levein the manager it, he would have felt confident that he wouldn’t be giving himself his jotters. His faith proved to be vindicated, as his team came from behind to beat Hibs at Easter Road.

The Hibs fans had been singing ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ as the sun shone briefly on Leith, before they were enveloped in the dark clouds of a Jambos win. The result leaves them second bottom with Paul Heckinbottom feeling the heat as the Hibees wondered if they’d wasted a song on the wrong man.

Aberdeen moved up to third in the league with a 2-0 win at Livingston displacing Motherwell. The Steelmen dropped a place after Ross County took advantage of them going down to 10 men to nab a late win.

St Mirren couldn’t do the same at Paisley after Hamilton had Oakley sent off not long after the break. The game finished 0-0 with the two teams combining to get just three shots on target.


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